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Eastbrook uneasy after fatal shooting

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
The sleepy center of the village of Eastbrook as seen on Tuesday, December 14, 2010. In the early monring hours of Monday, December 13, 2001 Nicholas Richards of Machias was shot and killed by a Roaring Brook Road resident. (Bangor Daily News/Kevin Bennett)
By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

EASTBROOK, Maine — Investigators have completed their inspection of the Roaring Brook Road mobile home where a Machias man was shot and killed early Monday morning, but police did not release any new information Tuesday. As of early Tuesday evening, no one had been arrested in connection with the shooting.

Area residents admitted Tuesday to being uneasy as rumors about the shooting spread through town and several said they were locking their doors for the first time in their lives.

The tenant, who rents the mobile home at 24 Roaring Brook Road, told state police detectives that he shot Richards after being assaulted by Richards and a woman early Monday morning. He said he was lured out of his home by the woman, who claimed to have been involved in a motor vehicle crash nearby. Police have not re-leased the shooter’s name.

The dead man has been identified as Nicholas Richards, 23, of Machias. After an autopsy Monday morning, the state medical examiner’s office determined that Richards died of a gunshot wound to the chest and classified his death as a homicide.

Police received two 911 calls at about 2 a.m. Monday, reporting the shooting. One call came from the shooter, and the other was not identified.

Alberta Merchant, who lives just a few hundred feet down Roaring Brook Road from where the shooting occurred, said Tuesday that she heard shots sometime before 2 a.m.

“I was up late, playing on the computer,” Merchant said. “I got up to get a cup of coffee and then I heard ‘pop, pop, pop,’ just like that.”

She said she did not think much about it because she has heard shots from that area before and just figured someone was night hunting. Merchant said she looked out the window, but did not see any lights through the trees at the trailer and did not hear anything else after the shots.

She and her husband, Everett, both said they have been locking the doors to their home since the incident.

“It’s probably a one-time thing,” he said. “But you never know. It’s getting a little close to home for me.”

Other area residents also expressed their concerns Tuesday.

“I don’t feel at ease unless I know I have an equalizer available,” said Joe Havey, referring to his own gun.

“But it’s too bad that it had to go that far for that fellow to lose his life. It’s dead wrong and I feel sympathy for both parties,” said Havey, who lives in neighboring Franklin.

Barbara Clark grew up in Eastbrook and now lives just over the town line in Franklin.

“You have to wonder what happened and why,” she said. “Yeah, it makes you nervous with all the things that are going on.”

Eastbrook, with a population of about 350, is a community where everyone knows everyone else, Clark said. Many of the problems, she said, are caused by people coming into town, “people we don’t know.”

No one seemed to know the man who lived in the trailer on Roaring Brook Road where the shooting took place. Neighbors indicated that the rental property had been occupied by several people over the years and that, although they had seen the man once or twice, they did not know him.

There have been a number of break-ins and thefts at homes around the small, rural town in the past several years, according to residents. Several of the diners at the Eastbrook Variety Store on Tuesday believed that people looking for drugs or money to buy drugs are behind the break-ins, and there is much speculation that the shooting Monday was drug-related.

“It makes me angry,” said Bob Beaudoin, an Eastbrook resident. “People have been concerned about a drug problem for a long time, and the police don’t seem to be doing anything about it.”

According to a criminal history record obtained Tuesday from the Maine Bureau of Identification, Richards served 48 hours in jail in January 2008 after being convicted of operating under the influence of intoxicants. He was sentenced to an added 158 days in jail in August that year for unlawful possession of a scheduled drug, refusing to submit to arrest or detention, criminal mischief and violating probation. Details about the drug are not included in the record.

State police investigators have given no indication that drugs were involved in Monday’s shooting.

One man in Eastbrook, who did not want to be identified, said with all the break-ins that have gone on, it was only a matter of time before something like this would happen. He said he feared that the break-ins would continue and that someone else would get hurt.

“It’s bad,” he said, “and it’s going to get worse. It’s going to happen again. And someone else is going to get shot.”

Although investigators have completed their search of the shooting scene, the investigation continues as they conduct additional interviews, according to state police spokesman Stephen McCausland.

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