Argument over religion led to man’s death in Bangor, witness says

Posted June 09, 2011, at 11:19 a.m.
Last modified June 10, 2011, at 12:11 p.m.

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BANGOR, Maine — An argument over religion led to the death of an unidentified man early Thursday morning on Fourth Street, an eyewitness told the Bangor Daily News.

The witness, who asked not to be identified, said he was visiting friends in an upstairs apartment at 94-96 Fourth St. when a fight broke out about 5 a.m.

Bangor police have said dispatch received a hang-up 911 call at 5:09 a.m. reporting someone had been injured. When emergency personnel arrived, they found a deceased male in the driveway on the 94 side of the duplex, Sgt. Paul Kenison said at about noon Thursday outside the apartment.

The victim’s death was considered “suspicious,” he said.

Kenison said no more information would be released until Friday after an autopsy has been completed by the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta.

“I was visiting someone,” the witness said. “These two were talking about religion. One believed in God. The other one didn’t. They were provoking each other all night and it just escalated into [the person who lived in the apartment] strangling the guy. He couldn’t breathe. I told him to stop but he wouldn’t.”

The witness said that he tried to restrain the two about 15 minutes before what may have been the fatal confrontation. Once the victim appeared to have stopped breathing, other visitors tried to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“I walked outside and called the cops,” the witness said. “When I came around to the back of the building, the body was being dragged over near the Dumpster. I think someone threw him out the window but I didn’t see that.”

The apartment where the fight took place was on the second floor and has a window that overlooks the driveway, according to the witness. In addition, he said that the man who put his hands around the victim’s throat was questioned by Bangor police.

Police declined to say early Thursday evening whether there was a suspect in custody.

At least two others who were at the duplex, which contains at least eight apartments, confirmed some of the witness’s account of events.

Rick Coleman, 22, of Bangor said he discovered a man’s body in the driveway of the 94 side toward the back of the building when he woke up about 5 a.m. Thursday. Coleman said he does not live in the apartment building but was staying with his friend Anthony Walton, 28, who lives in an upstairs rear apartment at 94 Fourth St.

“I came outside onto the balcony to smoke a cigarette and he was lying in the parking lot out back,” Coleman said Thursday. “I’d never seen him before. He was wearing pants and shoes but no shirt.”

Coleman also said the body appeared to have suffered head wounds.

Walton said a man who lived in the building had been taken from the scene in a Bangor police car. He said he did not know the man but described his behavior as “spacy.”

Dr. Michael Ferenc of the state medical examiner’s office worked Thursday morning alongside evidence technicians with the Bangor Police Department.  At one point, Ferenc held up what appeared to be a bloody white T-shirt to be photographed.

The witness who spoke to the BDN described Thursday’s events as “traumatizing.”

“I had to call the cops but I wish that it hadn’t escalated to the point that it got to,” he said. “There was no need of it.”

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