Investigators: Brentwood Man Set House On Fire, Other Answers May Never Come

May 19, 2014

Sgt. Joseph Ebert with the state police provides an update on the investigation into Officer Steve Arkell's murder.
Credit NHPR / Michael Brindley

A week after Brentwood Officer Steve Arkell was shot and killed, investigators say suspected gunman Michael Nolan intentionally set the fire that led an explosion, destroying the house.

Nolan was killed and officials fear they’ll never know why he opened fire.

Officer Arkell was killed responding to a domestic dispute between Nolan and his father, 86-year-old Walter Nolan.

Officials were able to get Walter Nolan away from the house before the explosion, but Sgt. Joseph Ebert with the state police says he’s been unable to provide any insight about what took place.

“It’s unbelievably frustrating for everyone involved in the investigation that we’re not able to get the answers that we’d like from him. He’s certainly the person who was there at the time and were he to be in 100 percent mental capacity, he would be able to provide us with those answers.”

Ebert says a responding officer found Arkell deceased, but with Michael Nolan firing from a second-story vantage point, had to retreat.

Investigators spent the week combing through what little evidence was left, recovering six firearms, including two assault rifles.

Ebert says evidence suggest that Nolan set several fires throughout the house, but described the explosion as an unintended consequence.

“Very simply put, we believe that he fired and at some point, the rounds that he fired struck a gas line.”

Thousands are expected to attend a memorial service for Arkell Wednesday in Exeter.