GARLAND, Maine — An armed man who allegedly was involved in a domestic assault earlier this week killed himself early Friday morning as police tried to coax him peacefully from his home at 30 Jones Road, Penobscot County Sheriff Glenn Ross said.
On Thursday, Citriano Zerquera, 50, had been served a protection from abuse order obtained by his wife, who claimed he had assaulted her and threatened her on Monday, according to Ross.
Ross said the protection order, served by Deputy Sean McCue, prohibited Zerquera from being at the home and from possessing firearms. While serving the order, McCue confiscated more than 30 fire-arms from the home and he “sensed a real issue,” Ross said Friday.
McCue advised the victim to call and request an officer to accompany her when she returned home, he said.
The victim did just that and when she and Deputy Jamie Kennedy arrived at the couple’s home at about 7 p.m. Friday, they found him sitting on a bed in a bedroom with a firearm in the cocked position held to his head, Ross said.
Kennedy backed off, got the woman outside of the house, called 911, and kept his eye on the house until backup arrived, according to the sheriff. Penobscot County’s special response team arrived and secured the perimeter and the building and waited for the arrival of the state police crisis negotiation and tactical teams.
For more than eight hours, the crisis negotiation team tried to talk Zerquera into leaving the home peacefully, Ross said.
“At no time during this did the crisis negotiation team ever put any pressure on him. They didn’t force him into a situation — they tried to use kindness and logic to get him to take a different path,” he said. At about 3:30 a.m, Zerquera took his own life. Ross said an ambulance was at the scene and Life-flight was on standby, but Zerquera died at the scene.
Ross said Zerquera had managed to keep two guns, which were in the home when the scene unfolded.
“This is another tragic situation, but the outcome could have been a lot different,” Ross said. “We are concerned that if the deputy hadn’t been present when the female went to the home, that this could have had a tragic outcome. … We feel the presence of the officer probably changed a terrible outcome for her.”
Ross praised McCue and Kennedy as well as the tactical teams for doing an outstanding job under the circumstances.