Reports Say Two Gunmen Set Target on 20-Year-Old at Haverhill Hotel; Victim May Have Returned Fire

One of six 2023 Ford Interceptors on the Haverhill Police fleet. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Gunfire outside a Haverhill hotel seriously injured a 20-year-old man and sent others, including at least two guests, scrambling, while the main gunman appears to remain at large and possibly wounded.

Police reports on file at Haverhill District Court detailed the chaotic situation that unfolded Wednesday afternoon and led to the arrest of 24-year-old Dexon Justabe of Methuen. Justabe is now believed to have pointed a gun at a hotel guest and participated in a robbery, but was not identified as the principal shooter. Instead, a man—who drove Justabe to the hotel in a Kia Sorento registered to a Revere man—is believed to have fired the life-threatening shots at the 20-year-old from Lawrence. He then drove off in the victim’s 2019 Honda CRV and, according to residents’ home security videos, ditched it on New Hampshire Avenue and walked toward South Elm Street while appearing to “check his lower torso area for a wound.”

As WHAV reported earlier, Justabe was arrested and charged with armed carjacking, assault with intent to murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying loaded firearm without a license, possession of a large capacity feeding device, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building and improper storge of a firearm.

According to witnesses quoted in a police report, Justabe pointed a gun at a hotel guest who confronted him, initially believing he was trying to steal his co-worker’s truck. The two workers concluded Justabe was hiding near the truck as part of the robbery that was about to take place. While both Justabe and the Revere suspect who fled were armed, Justabe reportedly tossed his 9mm Polymer 80 “ghost gun” with a high-capacity extended magazine into the woods across from the hotel entrance.

A hotel manager, who was on the telephone with police after seeing two men acting suspiciously inside the hotel, said he heard someone say “I think he’s got a gun.” Shortly, thereafter, workers saw the Honda drive up to the entrance and witnessed “a struggle, and someone being pulled out of the vehicle.” After hearing three to four gun shots, the victim came into lobby bleeding profusely.

WHAV is withholding the name of the victim for the time being.

Police administered emergency treatment for gunshot wounds to the man’s hip, forearm and thumb. According to a police report, one witness believed he saw the victim return fire before throwing his gun over the fence to the adjacent car dealership. Police later recovered a gun under a white truck there. The witness added seeing one of the two armed men, who wore a ski mask, drive off in the Honda.

At the hotel entrance, police found two spent 9mm shell casings and one live 9mm round along with broken car window glass and cannabis packages that had fallen from the car. Hotel security video appears to show the victim and shooter fighting over something located in the car’s center console. Police describe another scene in a video, saying “multiple (witnesses) seen in the lobby watching and appear to react to a gun shot by running and hiding.”

During a later interview at Lawrence General Hospital, an officer describes “The victim’s legs had turned a pale blue color and medical staff were bringing in bags of blood due to significant internal bleeding.” The report noted the hip wound considered by medical staff to be life threatening and too unstable for the victim to be airlifted to another hospital.

The man’s family denied he was involved in gang or drug activity and is employed as a mechanic. His father said he believed his son was going to a car dealership to look at a car to buy.

At Haverhill District Court Thursday, Judge Susan H. McNeil ordered Justabe held for a dangerousness hearing and to return March 21.

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