BRADFORD, Maine — When Maine State Police heard on Thursday that Clarence Rairdon Jr. had threatened to use explosives or start a fire at his home, they took it seriously.
Rairdon, 57, reportedly got drunk and threatened his ex-girlfriend with an ax just before noon Thursday and then barricaded himself in his home, kicking off a seven-hour standoff with police, state police Sgt. Sean Hashey said from the scene.
Rairdon has a criminal history that includes an armed standoff with state police in 1995 in Houlton.
State police took no chances with him Thursday and called out all reinforcements including their tactical team and their remote-controlled robot.
While police were interviewing the victim, Rairdon called her cell phone and told her that “things were going to blow,” Hashey said.
The victim was living with Rairdon at a mobile home at 460 Main Road, three doors down from the Bradford General Store.
As the state police tactical team began to arrive, other officers from the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department and State Fire Marshal’s Office also converged on the scene.
The local fire department blocked the road in front of the store and also about a mile farther down Main Road, also known as Route 221. As a precaution, the elementary school also was notified.
Andrew Costello, owner of Bradford General Store, said the incident started around 11:30 a.m. when the victim called police from the store’s parking lot. It escalated to the point where his store was forced to close at 12:30 p.m.
The tactical team could be seen putting on backpacks filled with gear and each member carried a black assault-style rifle. Some were dressed in camouflage and others all in black.
For hours, little appeared to happen. The tactical team used the time to cordon off the area around the house, and the negotiation team communicated with Rairdon trying to get him to leave the building, Stephen McCausland, Maine State Police spokesman, said Thursday evening.
Pizza was even delivered to the officers and firefighters outside the store.
But at around 6:30 p.m. several shots were heard. Police later explained that they had fired tear gas into the home.
After the shots were heard, a voice on a bullhorn repeated several times, “Clarence, no one is going to hurt you. Come out of the house. Come out of the house right now.”
After a minute or so, the man on the bullhorn added, “We’re here to help you.”
At about the same time, tactical team members ran toward the house with their rifles ready. Within a few minutes, at about 6:45 p.m. Rairdon came out the front door, surrendered to police and was taken into custody.
The ax was recovered, but no other weapons or explosive devices were found in the home, Hashey said after the arrest.
“He was very intoxicated,” Hashey said.
The tactical team robot was used to look in windows, and “was able to give us a little more information,” the sergeant said. No explosives were found.
A shirtless Rairdon was charged with felony terrorizing and put in a police cruiser for transport to Penobscot County Jail in Bangor, where he was to be held on a $10,000 cash bail, Hashey said.
While en route, Rairdon complained of chest pains and was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. McCausland said late Thursday that Rairdon was under guard at the hospital.
When Rairdon was 43 years old, he was convicted of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon after a two-hour standoff with police at the Houlton Mobile Home Park, where he was living at the time, according to Bangor Daily News reports.
Rairdon reportedly fired a gun outside his mobile home around 3 a.m. on June 1, 1995. Houlton police tried unsuccessfully to talk him into putting down his weapon, and the state police tactical team was called in to assist.
Rairdon later fled into the woods, but emerged after a short time on a nearby road where he was subdued by a state police trooper. Neighbors said Rairdon had been distraught because his wife had left him.
Rairdon was later found guilty in Aroostook County Superior Court and sentenced to 2½ years in prison, with all but 25 days suspended. He also was fined $1,000 and ordered to complete 100 hours of community service, and serve four years of probation.