MEDWAY, Maine — At least 100 motorcyclists and other drivers, double what was initially expected, will ride through much of northern Penobscot County today as part of a fundraiser honoring the late U.S. Marine Corps Lt. James “Bing” Popkowski, organizers said Friday.
“I have had people calling me from all over the state this week and they have all said they are going to be there, and a lot of them are actually veterans coming to support a fellow veteran,” said 25-year-old “Ride For Bing” co-organizer Jessica Pelkey of Medway.
Department of Veterans Affairs police Officer Thomas Park and Maine Warden Service Sgt. Ron Dunham reportedly shot Popkowski, 37, of Grindstone in woods off Route 17 near the Togus VA Medical Center in Augusta on July 8.
A Marine forced by a rare form of cancer to accept a disability retirement, Popkowski had been a patient at the center.
Preliminary evidence shows the officers fired in self-defense, officials have said. Popkowski was carrying a gun, which witnesses tentatively identified as a rifle, “in a threatening manner,” investigators said.
Investigators with the Maine Attorney General’s Office will determine whether in the moment of firing the officers reasonably believed that lives — their own or others’ — were endangered and that the deadly force used to subdue Popkowski provided the only means to end the danger, officials have said.
That investigation is continuing, officials said Friday.
The officers and Game Warden Joey Lefebvre, who did not use deadly force, are on paid leave pending the outcome of the investigation. The Attorney General’s Office handles incidents involving Maine law enforcement officers’ use of deadly force.
Driving all sorts of vehicles, not just motorcycles, the riders will start at Donald V. Henry American Legion Post 80 of Millinocket at 11 a.m. Saturday. They will take Route 11 to Milo, then ride through Levant and Old Town before riding along U.S. Route 2 to Route 11 again, where they will visit the town veterans memorial for a moment of silence. Taps will be played before the riders head back to the post for a barbecue, Pelkey said.
The riders will become their own parade within the Medway Centennial+35 celebrations that began Friday as they journey through town, centennial organizers have said.
Registration will occur at the post from 8 to 10:45 a.m.
The ride will raise money to pay for a memorial bench in Popkowski’s honor at the town’s veterans memorial off Route 11. Leftover funds will be donated to the National Institutes of Health, Popkowski’s charity. Donations will be collected at the post before the ride begins and are encouraged at the barbecue, Pelkey said.
More than $500 already has been raised, she said.
WHO: Donald V. Henry American Legion Post 80 of Millinocket Riders club and guests
WHAT: “Ride For Bing,” a fundraiser honoring the late U.S. Marine Corps Lt. James “Bing” Popkowski
WHERE: The ride will run from Donald V. Henry American Legion Post 80 of Millinocket along Route 11 to Milo, then to Levant and Old Town before returning along U.S. Route 2 to Route 11 again, with a stop at the Medway veterans memorial, before ending at the post.
WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday; pre-ride registration, 8-10:45 a.m.
WHY: To pay for a memorial bench in Popkowski’s honor at Medway’s veterans memorial off Route 11, with leftover funds going to the National Institutes of Health, Popkowski’s charity.
HOW: Donations will be accepted before the ride and at a barbecue afterward.
Source: Organizers of “Ride For Bing”