DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A former Greenville man who was involved in an armed standoff in August 2008 at Indian Hill Trading Post Supermarket had a long history of mental illness, according to statements made Monday in Piscataquis County Superior Court.
Lonnie Gould, 54, was charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon after the incident. He pleaded guilty to the charges on March 8 in Piscataquis County Superior Court, and his sentencing was set for Monday before Justice William Anderson.
But after hearing comments Monday from Piscataquis County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy, Gould’s family and a mental health specialist working with Gould, Anderson said he would take his time reviewing the case before announcing his sentence. Gould could face a maximum prison term of 30 years.
“It just takes more time to digest,” Anderson said of the information that the victims and the family members shared Monday.
Police said Gould walked into the trading post in Greenville at about 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 28 with a 12-gauge shotgun and demanded bullets for his gun while talking about committing suicide. Store employees thought the gun was loaded and reluctantly gave him the ammunition he requested.
At the same time, the store was evacuated of customers and employees. Gould then discarded the shotgun and picked up a .357-caliber revolver from a store shelf and inserted ammunition also taken from a shelf.
When Gould saw former Greenville Police Chief Scott MacMaster and Sgt. William Chandler of the Maine Warden Service, who had responded to the alarm, police said, Gould started to walk to the rear of the store. While Chandler was talking to Gould to calm him down, MacMaster circled around, ran at Gould and grabbed the gun, police said.
In court Monday, Craig Watt, Indian Hill’s operations manager, recalled the terror he felt when Gould pointed the gun at both him and store employee Kelly McMahon. When the pair stalled about giving him the ammunition in light of his state of mind, Gould pointed the gun at both of them and said he would use it if he had to, Watt recalled. “It was a very tense situation, a very scary situation,” he said.
Gould was a troubled man, according to his attorney, Randy Day of Garland. Day said Monday in court that Gould had a long history of mental illness and self-mutilation and had been hospitalized numerous times because of his mental health. In addition, in late 2007, Gould’s 30-year marriage was ending, he had.
Dr. Jeffrey Aston, a clinical psychologist at the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor, said Gould had been treated at the facility for self-mutilation and was discharged in January 2009. Since that time, Aston has seen Gould each week to help him deal with earlier post-traumatic events that stemmed from his molestation over the years by a relative. Aston said he has seen a remarkable change in Gould from the counseling sessions. He no longer smashes his head against a wall, tries to cut himself or has suicidal thoughts, he said. Aston called Gould the most “committed person” he has ever worked with. He said Gould should continue with the ses-sions for six months to a year.
Family members who spoke in court Monday included Gould’s sister Bonnie Campbell of Greenville. She said Gould now carries on conversations, joins in on family gatherings and reaches out to others. Since the treatment, she said, her brother seems more relaxed and has coping skills.
Gould himself told Anderson on Monday that he has spent the past few years apologizing to everyone involved. For nearly two decades, he said, he prayed for an honorable disease to take the place of mental illness. He said he has dishonored himself and his family. “I put aside hope and wanted death … now, I have hope and I choose life,” he said. “My goals are to reintroduce myself to what I call a normal life.”
Almy told Anderson he was faced with a difficult situation to judge. He said that while Gould does appear to be progressing with treatment, he questioned what the risk would be if Gould no longer followed the treatment plan.