AYER -- Francis Banister called Pepperell police Saturday morning and said he was shot through the leg in a drive-by shooting on Leighton Street, but the story began to fall apart when nearby residents found a bullet in their bathroom, according to a police report.
In a Leighton Street apartment adjacent to the one where a bullet hole was found in a bathroom wall, police found a man who told officers that Banister shot himself as he was "playing with" a rifle while laying in bed, according to police reports.
The rifle bullet passed through Banister's leg, through the mattress he was laying on and then penetrated the neighbors wall, where it knocked a toilet paper holder off the ball and came to rest on the bathroom floor, according to a police report.
Banister, 19, of Pepperell, eventually admitted to police that he shot himself and lied about the drive-by, according to a police report.
Judge Margaret Guzman ordered Banister held without bail pending a dangerousness hearing as Banister was arraigned Monday in Ayer District Court on 18 criminal counts connected to the case. That hearing will be held on Monday.
Police reports indicate officers were given permission to search the apartment where Banister allegedly shot himself, and found a Remington rifle with a spent shell casing in the chamber, a blood stain and a Lugar revolver, according to prosecutors.
They also found an "80 percent kit" for an AR-15 rifle, which appeared to be in the process of being converted into a functioning gun, according to a police report.
Banister is the subject of an active restraining order obtained by a Townsend woman, and as a result of that order he had been told to surrender any firearms he possessed, according to police reports.
Police served a search warrant on Banister's home at 64 Groton St., and found prescription pills, marijuana and a small amount of cocaine along with scales, several more types of ammunition, cash and an "AK-style" magazine," according to a police report.
Banister, who had already checked out of the hospital before police became suspicious of his story about the drive-by, turned himself in to Fitchburg police later Saturday, according to police reports.
Banister admitted he lied about the drive-by and shot himself, but told investigators he shot himself with a .38 caliber revolver he was playing with while drinking, according to a police report.
Investigators told Banister the bullet they recovered came from a rifle, but Banister stuck to his story about the revolver, according to a police report, which notes that officers believe there may still be an unrecovered revolver somewhere.
Banister's court-appointed attorney, Debra Dewitt, argued there wasn't probable cause to hold Banister pending a dangerousness hearing because the guns he is accused of possessing were found in someone else's home.
"The only evidence we have that puts those (guns) into the hands of Mr. Banister is the word of this third-party person," Dewitt said.
Dewitt also said Banister has a "minimal record," aside from one pending Ayer District Court case.
Banister is charged with possession of a large-capacity firearm, intimidation of a witness, possession of ammunition without an FID, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, violation of a firearm surrender order, receiving stolen property, wanton destruction of property over $250, possession of a class D substance, making a false crime report, three counts of possession of a Class E substance, and two counts each of improper storage of a firearm, possession of a firearm without an FID, and possession of a Class B substance, according to court records.
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