BANGOR, Maine — The bad economy is believed to be the reason a successful local businessman took his own life Monday inside the business he started nearly nine years ago.
Police, including the tactical team, went to the Weber Mortgage Co. on Broadway just after 1 p.m. after hearing that there was “a despondent person [inside] threatening suicide with a high-powered weapon,” Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said.
The lone car in the mortgage company’s driveway belonged to owner Gil Weber, and sources close to the family confirmed he was the distraught man.
The threat created by a high-powered weapon’s ability to reach great distances prompted police to block the entrance to the business, lock down the neighboring Dairy Queen and tell onlookers to get back.
“We don’t want you in sight of the windows,” one officer told a small group gathered on the sidewalk in front of Bangor Savings Bank, which is two doors down from the mortgage company.
At least one lane of the four-lane roadway was blocked between Husson Avenue and McDonald’s for about 3½ hours as police handled the situation. At one point, the entire road was closed for about an hour in front of the building at 676 Broadway and heavy traffic was rerouted through the Broadway Shopping Center.
It did not appear that anyone else was in the building as police repeatedly tried to call the business and Weber’s cell phone. They also used a telescope and later the bomb squad’s 4-foot-tall remote-controlled robot to look into windows and gain entry to the building.
Just before the Bangor Police Department’s Emergency Response Team members, wearing protective gear, rushed into the building with their guns drawn, Broadway was blocked entirely.
The tactical team entered the building at about 3:40 p.m. and soon after radioed that they found a man inside dead. It was not clear whether the man was already dead when police first arrived on the scene just after 1 p.m. Edwards said the man had used a gun of unknown type to kill himself.
Police did not confirm that Weber was the victim, stating that the name was being withheld until the body could be positively identified by the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta.
But Gil Weber’s wife, Carolyn Weber, and their son, Sean Weber, who live in Brewer, and company employees were in the Bangor Savings Bank parking lot when they were told by police that a body was found.
“He’s gone, he’s gone,” Carolyn Weber could be heard saying, obviously distraught.
Her son, and others, including Marc Reynolds, former general manager for Weber Mortgage, hugged and tried to comfort her before her son took her away from the scene in his car.
Reynolds said on Monday night that “the tough economic times made it very difficult to stay in business as a mortgage broker.” For that reason, the Weber mortgage brokers were looking for work elsewhere, and “Gil played a large part in finding employment” for those employees, he said.
“He gave so much to everybody around him,” said Reynolds, who worked for Weber for seven years and described him as a family man. “It was very unexpected. Gil was a very caring person, and as far as working [together] you couldn’t work for a better individual. He always put his friends and family and employees first.”
Weber, who was believed to be in his 60s, also was active in his church. He was a Eucharistic minister for St. Joseph Catholic Church in Brewer for 15 years, assisting the priest with his duties during Mass and funerals, Don Pushard, bereavement coordinator for the church, said Monday evening.
“He brought Communion to Brewer Rehab periodically,” Pushard said, adding that before moving to Brewer, Weber lived in Pittsfield and was a very active church member in that community as well.
“He was a nice man,” Pushard said. “It’s very sad.”
Weber started Weber Mortgage in August 2000, and just last year merged with Jacob Dean Mortgage Inc. of Vienna, Va. A Jacob Dean representative, who asked not to be identified, issued a statement soon after finding out about the death.
“Our company is devastated by this,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the family. Gil was really one of the sweetest men I’ve known. He had a great heart. I don’t understand this.”
The man said the economy was “definitely” part of the underlying problem.
“It’s an awful economy,” he said. “He had been very successful for very many years and would have continued to be if he weathered this storm.”