SEARSPORT, Maine — A local man who was shot and wounded by a Maine state trooper attempting to arrest him has been charged with trying to kill a Frankfort man early Thursday morning.
Matthew Sylvester, 24, was charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault after the shooting of Richard Brown, 41, of Frankfort, during an altercation in North Searsport. The incident was reported at 2:27 a.m.
Sylvester was arrested after being treated for a gunshot wound to the arm, according to police. He was shot by Trooper Cory Smith a short time after the first shooting and is being held at Waldo County Jail on $50,000 cash or $250,000 surety bail. He is expected to make his initial appearance on the charges in Belfast District Court at 1 p.m. Friday.
Brown suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was taken by LifeFlight to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, after receiving initial treatment at Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast. Information about his condition was not released.
Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said Sylvester and Brown were passengers in a car when they began to argue, and the quarrel suddenly turned violent. When the driver, whose name was not released, stopped the car at the intersection of North Searsport Road and Mount Ephraim Road, the two men got out and Brown was shot.
McCausland said Brown “was not armed with a gun” during the altercation but did have a knife.
“He was in possession of a knife. We do not know if it was displayed during the fight,” said McCausland.
After the shooting, Sylvester was driven to the home he shares with his father on Porter Street and was in its driveway when he was shot by Trooper Smith, who had gone to the house to investigate the earlier shooting. Smith was not injured. He has been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure whenever an officer is involved in a shooting, McCausland said.
McCausland said there was no exchange of gunfire at the Porter Street residence. He declined to reveal whether Sylvester’s gun was recovered from the scene.
“The specifics of the encounter between Trooper Smith and Sylvester will come out in the final report,” McCausland said.
According to the Maine State Bureau of Identification, Sylvester’s criminal history indicates that he was charged with trafficking in scheduled drugs and carrying a concealed weapon in November 2006 and was sentenced to 364 days in jail with all but six months suspended and fined $400. In December 2006 he was charged with violation of conditions of release and sentenced to three days in jail. In March 2007 he was charged with violation of conditions of release and sentenced to 30 days in jail.
Richard Brown is not listed as having a criminal record in Maine.
When approached at the Porter Street scene later that morning, state police Lt. Gary Wright, of the Criminal Investigation Division, declined to discuss the incident.
“At this time we are still in the beginning stage of the investigation,” Wright said.
A few moments after Wright spoke, an evidence technician wearing dark coveralls began photographing a red Ford Thunderbird parked near the end of a long driveway off Porter Street.
The Thunderbird’s driver’s side window appeared to have been shot out and articles of clothing were on the ground beside it. The car was running, had its lights on and was pointed in the direction leading back toward the street, as though the driver was in the process of leaving the residence before coming to a stop. The Thunderbird is registered to Michael Sylvester, of Searsport. The relationship of Michael Sylvester to the accused man could not immediately be determined.
The yard where the car was parked is one of several adjoining parcels owned by people named Sylvester, according to the Searsport tax maps. A half-dozen detectives and troopers were at the scene.
Investigators at the location of the first shooting closed North Searsport Road to traffic until shortly before noon as technicians from the state police Evidence Response Team combed the street and nearby yards for evidence.
The officers were observed using small, stainless steel rakes to sift through the snow as they searched for objects around one home with a snowman out front. Each location where a piece of evidence was found was marked with an 8-inch-tall yellow plastic triangle and photographed.
A state police aircraft was sent aloft to take aerial photographs of both shooting scenes.
McCausland said investigators from the Maine Attorney General’s Office were called in as that office is responsible for investigating all shootings involving police officers.
Waldo County Sheriff’s Lt. Jason Trundy, Sgt. James Porter, Detective Matt Curtis, Deputies James Greeley, Dan Thompson, Darren Moody, Gerry Lincoln and Searsport Police Chief Richard LaHaye assisted at the scene.