Two defendants plead guilty to 2018 Hanover drive-by shooting
Gage Young and Hector Correa will be sentenced to “several years” in prison after shooting and injuring a visiting college student on School Street near campus
In March, the Grafton County Superior Court sentenced Gage Young and Hector Correa to “several years” in state prison, nearly four years after the drive-by shooting that injured Providence College student Thomas Elliot on School Street in 2018, WMUR and Valley News reported. The two each pleaded guilty to felony charges of second-degree assault and reckless conduct.
Young, who was 22 years old at the time of the shooting, was first arrested for second-degree assault in 2018 following a collaboration between Lebanon and Hanover police forces, The Dartmouth reported. Authorities planned to hold Young without bail until his arraignment in Grafton County Superior Court. At the time, he pleaded not guilty to first- and second-degree assault, as well as reckless conduct and the falsifying of evidence, according to the Valley News.
“We had an immediate response to the call that came in and immediately began getting our EMS people on scene to render aid to the victim,” Hanover police chief Charlie Dennis said. “At the same time, [we were] trying to put together pieces of information of what occurred so that we could certainly find the person that did this.”
Following his arrest, Young was scheduled for a January 2020 trial before the judge granted the prosecutors a sealed motion for a protective order. Correa, who was 17 years old at the time of the shooting, has since been charged with firing Young’s handgun. He was initially scheduled to testify at Young’s trial, but prosecutors later removed Correa from their witness list until he was again implicated in the crime.
The case saw several other turns over the next three years. According to the Union Leader, the case was delayed when key witnesses said they might not testify. The pandemic also held up court proceedings, as one defendant and at least two witnesses tested positive for COVID-19 before a Dec. 2021 evidence hearing, The Laconia Daily Sun reported.
Finally, after a lengthy legal battle, both Young and Correa have been sentenced for the shooting. While earlier reports stated that Young fired the shot while Correa drove the Ford Fusion down School Street, later reports revealed that Correa discharged the weapon. Although there remain conflicting reports as to who shot the gun, both men will spend several years behind bars.
According to Dennis, the motive was “random” and there was no evidence “to indicate the victim was targeted,” The Dartmouth reported.
“Legal processes tend to be lengthy and, at times, take unexpected turns,” Safety and Security director Keysi Montas wrote in an emailed statement to The Dartmouth. “It is good that [the case] has come to a resolution.”
While Elliot has since recovered from his injuries — which were treated at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center — his family said the shooting has had a grave impact on their lives.
“We have cried so many tears,” Elliot’s mother said during the sentencing. “Our hearts are broken. Our sense that people are intrinsically good is shattered. Why would these two men try to kill our child? We are haunted by the what-ifs.”
While Elliot did not attend the College — he was visiting friends at the time of the shooting — the case affected the local community. Safety and Security took several steps to ensure campus safety, including issuing a shelter-in-place order for students, faculty and staff. The order was implemented at 10:45 p.m. and lifted around 12:30 a.m., The Dartmouth reported.
Additionally, Montas said Safety and Security activated the Emergency Operations Center, “responded to community reports [and] worked with and remained in contact with responding law enforcement agencies.”
“Nobody really knew what was going on,” Jack Vasu ’22, who experienced the shelter-in-place order as a first-year student, said. “We were walking down past the Green, towards the fraternity and we got there. Then all of a sudden, everybody just ran upstairs and we still [had] no idea. We were just in the front room, just hanging out and really had no idea what was going on until someone came down and they were like, ‘Oh, you guys know there's a shooting happening.’”
Vasu added that students and police were “confused,” especially as police received conflicting reports about more gunshots near Webster Avenue and students heard rumors of someone “shooting up dorms.”
“At that point we were kind of worried that something larger was happening, especially in light of everything that was happening across the country with school shootings,” Vasu said. “It luckily ended up being a much smaller incident than we expected.”
Lily Simon ’22 called the event “scary,” “rattling” and “bizarre,” echoing Vasu’s sentiment that students were unsure of what was happening.
“People kept saying, ‘There's another gunshot, there's another shot,’” Simon said. “I remember people were trying to listen in on the police radio lines or something. And I think there was a lot of misinformation happening.”
Beyond campus, Dennis said the incident caused “people to be very concerned for their safety, to the point that some arrests were made” incorrectly due to a high number of frightened calls to Hanover police. Dennis added that Dartmouth parents called from across the country to ensure the safety of their children.
Both Dennis and Montás called the shooting rare for the Hanover area. Dennis said the crime was an “isolated incident,” adding that it was the first shooting in his tenure of over eight years at the department.
“This is far from our everyday,” Montás wrote. “However, it demonstrated the present and constant need for preparedness and awareness.”
Grafton County attorney Marcie Hornick did not respond to requests for comment by the time of publication.