ROCKLAND, Maine — A Tenants Harbor man was arrested this week after reportedly burning a wooden cross on a police officer’s lawn.
Reggie Lachance, 63, was arrested Wednesday after police said he walked onto Knox County Sheriff’s Office Deputy John Hansen’s lawn on Tuesday night and planted a 4-foot-tall homemade wooden cross. He then poured fuel on the cross and put a match to it.
“The cross failed to ignite the way it should,” said Maine State Police Trooper Jason Madore. “It’s like if you put gas on a table, it will just burn the gas. I don’t think he soaked it. I think he was expecting it to burn to the ground. It was fully erect when I got there.”
Hansen’s wife walked outside Wednesday morning to find the slightly charred cross standing 11 feet from the porch.
Madore said interviews and evidence led him to arrest Lachance, who was charged with arson, criminal trespass and criminal threatening. Other charges are pending, according to Knox County Sheriff Donna Dennison.
The incident is not now considered a hate crime, according to Madore, but that might change. The trooper said he is waiting for a call back from the state Attorney General’s Office to see if crimes against police can be considered hate crimes.
The crime was spurred by Hansen’s work, according to Madore.
“They had had a dealing with each other the Thursday before in which the deputy had a conversation with Mr. Lachance about operating his vehicle after suspension. Mr. Lachance was upset about it and did some vigilante justice,” Madore said. “If you have a problem with a police officer, you should call the [law enforcement] office and do it the legal way.”
During his investigation, Madore poked around Lachance’s garage.
“I found the property used to make the cross in his garage. I found the exact wood and cut-out pieces and matched those up. I found the accellerant. All the evidence is there.”
Lachance is now being held at Knox County Jail awaiting $5,000 bail.
“The Hansen family was very upset, however a quick resolution to this crime somewhat eased the family’s fear,” Dennison wrote in an email. “One can only imagine the terror John’s wife must have felt when she found the cross on her lawn. I just don’t understand why people do some things that they do.”