BANGOR, Maine — The Bangor teenager charged with shooting to death a Bangor man last week in a fight on Cumberland Street held up his thumb, index and little fingers — American Sign Language for “I love you” — and gestured toward his friends and family after making his first court appearance Monday at the Penobscot Judicial Center.
Zachary R. Carr, 18, is charged with intentional or knowing murder in the death of John “Bobby” Surles, 19, described by Bangor police detectives as a transient.
According to an affidavit filed in court Monday, Carr shot an unarmed Surles with a 9 mm handgun about 6 p.m. Wednesday in a confrontation outside 62 Cumberland St. in Bangor. Surles allegedly told a passer-by who came to his aid that “Zach Carr” was the person who shot him.
Another witness, according to the affidavit, heard Surles say just before Carr pulled the trigger: “You think you’re a gansta’, you gang-banging [expletive deleted], I’m hard core. Wait ta’ see what happens.”
About 50 of Carr’s friends and family members attended the short court hearing at the new courthouse on Exchange Street.
Carr did not enter a plea. He was informed of the charges and agreed to be held without bail pending his indictment.
District Court Judge Jessie Gunther appointed Stephen Smith, a Bangor attorney, to represent him.
Carr is expected to be indicted by the Penobscot County grand jury on Feb. 24.
Surles died Thursday night at Eastern Maine Medical Center from injuries caused by a gunshot wound to the chest. The bullet struck and destroyed the pulmonary artery, a doctor told police, according to the affidavit, and one of Surles’ lungs was removed during surgery.
Carr allegedly shot Surles during a fight near the Cumberland Street apartment where Carr lived. Carr turned himself in to Bangor police about 3 p.m. Friday and was arrested.
“It appears my client had every reason to fear for his life,” Smith said Monday after the hearing, raising the possibility of using self-defense in Carr’s defense. “I don’t know enough to say more at this time.”
Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson, who is prosecuting Carr, declined to comment on the case. It is the practice of the Maine Attorney General’s office not to comment on criminal cases until after they are concluded.
The affidavit shed little light on what led to the confrontation Wednesday between two groups of young males that ended when Surles was shot. A juvenile male allegedly told Bangor police that the animosity between the two groups began last summer. One group lives at 57 Cumberland across the street from where the confrontation occurred, the affidavit stated.
A 14-year-old juvenile told investigators that another male “he had been riding around with” exchanged words with Surles a few hours before the shooting, according to the affidavit. After “threatening phone calls” were exchanged, arrangements were made for the squabbling groups to meet in the parking lot of a Center Street funeral home.
The juvenile told police that Surles was armed with a mop handle while he and his friends carried Mace, a plastic shovel, an ice scraper, a bat and a knife. When the group arrived at the parking lot and found no one there, they walked about half a block to Cumberland Street.
A group of males, including Carr, came out of the residence, according to the affidavit, and a fight ensued. At some point, Surles allegedly was knocked to the ground. As he got up, Carr allegedly was standing about 5 feet from Surles, pointing a gun at him. Carr pulled the trigger after Surles made the “gangsta” comment, the affidavit stated.
After the shot was fired, members of both groups reportedly scattered. According to the affidavit, Carr returned to 57 Cumberland St. and hid the gun in a back room, where police later found it.
Surles’ funeral is scheduled at 1 p.m. Saturday at Veazie Congregational Church, 1404 State St. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations toward improving the skateboard park in Bangor.