Charges Brought Against Man Rescued in Hudson Apartment Fire

May 3, 2019

 

by David S. Morin

A man Hudson police officers rescued from his burning apartment on Monday morning April 29 will be charged with Class A felony arson and one count of felony attempted murder.  Hudson Police Chief William Avery said at a Tuesday press conference that on April 30, a 9th Circuit Court judge signed arrest warrants for Gerald Gutekunst, 73, of Hudson.

It is believed that Gutekunst started the fire that began shortly after 2 a.m. at 194 Central St.  The fire was discovered by Hudson Police Officer Colby Morton on her way into the police station to begin her shift.  Morton alerted firefighters and fellow on-duty patrol officers.

A short time later, officers Robert McNally, Daniel Donahue, and Alec Golner arrived on the scene finding heavy fire and smoke coming from the second floor of the three-unit apartment building.  They quickly evacuated occupants of the building and were told that Gutekunst was still in his second-floor apartment.  The officers went to the second floor and discovered the apartment door was locked. The officers attempted to break down the door but found it heavily secured.  Golner, using his baton, broke a window and reached in to unlock the door. Officer McNally, crawling on his hands and knees through heavy smoke conditions, entered the apartment and was followed by Golner and Donahue.

The officers stated they had no organized plan when they entered to search for the man. They formed a chain holding each other’s holster belts to stay in contact in the heavy black smoke that was banked down to about one foot from the floor.  McNally spotted a hand and arm of a man and yelled out to his fellow officers that he had located the unresponsive Gutekunst.  Donahue and Golner were able to pull both McNally and the victim from the burning apartment.  The officers carried the man to the ground level where arriving firefighters took over treatment of the man’s injuries.

Gutekunst was transported to a Nashua hospital by a Nashua AMR ambulance and was later transferred to a Boston hospital for further treatment.  One police officer was treated at the scene and remained on duty. No other injuries were reported.

Golner said, “We were obviously going to give it a good try if there was a chance to save a life.”  He went on to say that if the flames were any closer, it would not have been safe for them to attempt a rescue.

Police Chief Bill Avery said that during their time in the burning apartment the officers’ actions showed their bravery and their commitment and that each of the officers did not think twice about their own safety.

The Nashua Bomb Squad was brought to the scene on Monday to check the building for safety. Danielle Cole from the New Hampshire Fire Marshal’s Office said there were indications that there “could be a threat to other individuals coming into the apartment” but could not discuss what the indications were.

Police said a fugitive from justice warrant has been issued to start the process of bringing Gutekunst back to New Hampshire from Massachusetts.  There were no comments on the condition of Gutekunst or where he was located, but Cole said they believe an arrest will probably be made in a week’s time.

When Officer McNally was asked what their counterpart firefighters said of the rescue:  “They said we stole their thunder a little bit.”  At this time the fire remains under investigation.