Man kills himself during standoff with police at Lewiston cemetery

Posted Feb. 19, 2012, at 8:54 a.m.

LEWISTON, Maine — A 24-year-old man who held police at bay in an armed standoff all day Saturday killed himself at St. Peter’s Cemetery, police said.

The man, who was not identified, shot himself in the head as he sat in his vehicle. The suicide happened at 5:30 p.m., said Lt. Michael McGonagle of the Lewiston Police Department.

“Obviously, this is not the result we wanted,” McGonagle said. “It’s a sad situation.”

Police know who the man is but would not release his identity Saturday night. McGonagle said the man had a Lewiston address, but may not have grown up in Lewiston. “It’s all under investigation,” McGonagle said. “We’re trying to reach family members.”

The man’s mother was at the cemetery director’s office with police officers during the standoff, the lieutenant said. She knew her son was distraught, and she contacted police Saturday morning, worried that he would harm himself.

“We located him at 9:30,” McGonagle said. “His mother was there the whole time.” Police spent the day negotiating with the man as he sat in his vehicle and were on the phone with him when he shot himself, McGonagle said.

The man never threatened to harm anyone but himself, police said.

During the day, the entire cemetery at 217 Switzerland Road was shut down as Lewiston police and Maine State Police negotiated with the man. About 30 police officers were involved.

Earlier in the day, police said the man was suicidal, and they were trying to convince him to “put the gun down and surrender,” McGonagle said. The man was distraught over personal issues. Police said they were trying to end the standoff peacefully without him hurting himself.

It was unclear, McGonagle said, why the man was in the cemetery.

At the cemetery’s Switzerland Road entrance, black iron gates were locked. At least a dozen police vehicles were parked inside. Outside the gate, a United Ambulance was on standby.

The cemetery’s Deer Road entrance was blocked off by a Lewiston Police Critical Response Unit vehicle with its blue lights flashing.

Neighbor Scott Giguere, who lives on Gulf Island Avenue, said his parents drove by the cemetery entrance Saturday morning and saw the police cars. They told him about it.

“I called one of the employees of the cemetery. I used to work here,” Giguere said. He was told that the standoff had gone on all day, that a man was in a car with a weapon threatening to hurt himself in Section 6 of the cemetery, which Giguere said is “down in the corner.”

Cemetery Director Gerald Raymond, who was in his office with police, said he saw one car in the graveyard.

“Police told me to lock the gates. I did,” Raymond said. “We’ve been shut down all day. We had a service scheduled that I canceled.”

During the afternoon, Raymond and Giguere hoped the standoff would end with no one getting hurt.

“Maybe he just snapped,” Giguere said. With so many people out of work, “it’s a tough time out there for people.”

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