BANGOR, Maine — Police have released few details about a dramatic standoff on lower Main Street that started at about 4:30 p.m. Saturday and wasn’t resolved until early Sunday morning. But area residents, some of whom were evacuated from their homes and businesses as the drama unfolded, said Sunday that they heard something like gunshots fired and that the situation has disrupted the sense of peace and security in the quiet neighborhoods where they live.
“This whole thing makes me feel awfully vulnerable,” said Larry Puls, whose wife inherited her parents’ comfortable home on nearby Olive Street. “I used to think this was a nice safe neighborhood, but after last night, I’m not so sure.”
Police Saturday afternoon went to a home at 751 Main St., a small, pale-green house beside the elevated train trestle that passes over the road near McLaughlin Seafood. A male inside the home was threatening to harm himself, and the department had learned he had access to firearms.
At about 6 p.m., police issued a press release saying a section of lower Main Street had been closed and traffic was being rerouted.
“We are currently dealing with a despondent, suicidal male in that area. It is believed he has access to weapons, and several homes and businesses in the area have been evacuated for precautionary measures,” the release said.
The department’s Special Response Team and hostage negotiators were at the site, according to the first statement, although another statement issued late Sunday afternoon said a “crisis negotiation team” and not “hostage negotiators” were present.
At about 12:30 Sunday morning a second press release indicated that police had taken a male at the residence into custody after using tear gas. The man, who had not been identified Sunday afternoon, was taken to Eastern Maine Medical Center for a medical evaluation.
There were no serious injuries in the incident, according to the second statement.
All was quiet at the Main Street address Sunday morning. No vehicles were in the driveway. Signs reading “no trespassing” and “beware of dog” were prominently displayed in the windows of the home. Another sign threatened to prosecute trespassers including “Bangor PD, B.P.D. Snitch, Maine State PD, U.S. Border Patrol, Forest Service, F.B.I, D.E.A, C.I.A, Home Land Security, T.S.A, F.A and any and all U.S. agencies not list [sic] on here.”
Under the list was an additional note: “Patriots live on this land and own it!!! So piss off we will not be your slaves!!!”
Flags hung on the front of the home included a Marine Corps flag, a POW-MIA flag and an American flag. On the mailbox was the single name “Nobrega.” There was no response to a knock at the side door.
In the quiet, tree-lined neighborhood on the hillside behind the Main Street home, neighbors said the episode had left them shaken. Puls of Olive Street said he heard from another neighbor that there was a police incident unfolding nearby. Although residents on the other side of the street had been asked to leave their homes, he had not, Puls said. He heard no more about it until he was awakened shortly after midnight by what sounded like gunfire, he said.
Another neighbor preferred not to be identified for fear of retaliation from the male subject. At about 4 p.m., he said, police knocked on his door and asked to use his backyard as a vantage point for surveillance of the Main Street property below.
“They came back an hour later and asked us to leave,” he said. He, his wife and the family dog spent the night with friends.
“It was sort of a panicky feeling,” he said. “It’ll shake you up.”
A block and a half away on Dillingham Street, longtime resident and City Council candidate Nick Bearce said he saw a notice on the Bangor Daily News website Saturday evening that Main Street had been blocked off due to a police situation. At about 9:30, Bearce took his dog Cooper for a walk and saw that Main Street was still closed.
“At about midnight, I heard two or three shots, and then I heard some more about five minutes later,” he said. Bearce speculated that the shots could have been gunshots or tear gas being fired.
Reid McLaughlin, owner of McLaughlin Seafood, said the episode forced an early closing of his business Saturday.
“The police stopped in and told us to lock up and get out,” he said. Three employees were working at the time, he said, and a few hardy customers were enjoying late-season lobsters at the picnic tables outside. Everyone left promptly, McLaughlin said.
Sgt. Chip Hodges of the Bangor Police Department issued a third statement late Sunday afternoon, saying only that tear gas had been used in an effort to get the still-unidentified man to surrender and that he remained under observation at EMMC. Additional information about the incident is expected from the department today.