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Police cite retaliation in gunshots

A Maine State Police trooper watches over the intersection of Southgate Road and Rt. 16 in Old Town on Sunday, December 13, 2009 after a report of shots being fired in the area. A K-9 unit was called in to search the woods behind a house on Southgate Road.
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

OLD TOWN, Maine — Police are saying that the boys who shot up a Ford truck parked in a gravel pit off Route 16 Sunday may have done so in retaliation for having been told to leave the area by two men working nearby in the woods.

Instead of leaving when asked, one or more of the boys, ages 9 to 14, shot at the truck the men were using with .22-caliber rifles, according to police.

“The truck was hit twice, once in the fender and once in the window,” Sgt. Travis Roy of the Old Town Police Department said Monday.

Whether either of the men was in the truck when the bullets struck it is unknown, Roy said.

“There are two different statements,” he said. “We’ve asked them to come back in for interviews, so we’re working on that right now.”

It’s also unknown whether the two bullets that hit the truck came from the same gun, Roy said.

The shooting happened in the gravel pit near the junction of Route 16 and Southgate Road on Sunday.

The workers, a father and son team hired by the landowner to cut wood, saw the boys and “they hollered at them, ‘You can’t be up here,’” Roy said.

Directly afterward, shots were fired at the truck, and the men called 911.

When the initial call to police was made around 1:36 p.m. Sunday, they were told the incident involved “three people with multiple guns,” Roy said Sunday, which triggered the multiple agency response.

“They [the workers] were never close enough to realize how young these boys were,” the sergeant said Monday.

After the shots were fired, the juveniles ran off into the woods, Roy said.

Deputies from the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department, Penobscot Nation Warden Service, Maine State Police and a U.S. Customs agent who heard the police scanner traffic gathered at the scene to assist Old Town police.

Police cordoned off the area, setting up roadblocks on portions of Route 16 and Southgate Road, also known as Route 116, while officers searched the area.

A dog was used to track the three suspects through the woods to a Southgate Road residence where they caught up with them — a 9-year-old and 11-year-old from Old Town and a 14-year-old from LaGrange, Roy said.

The boys were detained at 2:35 p.m. Sunday, and after being interviewed by police, were released to their parents.

The mother of the 9-year-old and stepmother of the 14-year-old, who asked not to be identified, said Sunday that the group of boys asked her whether they could go play in the gravel pit.

“I knew they had the BB gun, but I didn’t know that they had the other two guns,” she said.

She said she found out there was a search going on when she looked out her back window and saw a police officer and his search dog.

Police are not saying which boy or boys they suspect of shooting at the truck.

As of Monday, “there [have] been no arrests made,” Roy said, adding that juvenile crimes are handled differently from crimes committed by adults. “I anticipate charges going through juvenile intake.”

If it is determined that someone was in the truck when it was shot at and that whoever shot it was aiming at a person, any charges filed “potentially” could be elevated, he said.

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