Gunshots rattle downtown Lewiston, several men detained

Police officers have three men on the ground near the corner of Bates and Ash Streets in Lewiston on Friday evening.
Daryn Slover | Sun Journal
Police officers have three men on the ground near the corner of Bates and Ash Streets in Lewiston on Friday evening.
Posted May 18, 2012, at 9:52 p.m.
Lewiston police officers question a man in hand cuffs on Ash Street in Lewiston on Friday evening.
Daryn Slover | Sun Journal
Lewiston police officers question a man in hand cuffs on Ash Street in Lewiston on Friday evening.
Lewiston police Officer Joseph Philippon covers 111 Blake St. in Lewiston on Friday evening.
Daryn Slover | Sun Journal
Lewiston police Officer Joseph Philippon covers 111 Blake St. in Lewiston on Friday evening.
Shots fired were reported around 111 Blake St. in Lewiston on Friday evening.
Daryn Slover | Sun Journal
Shots fired were reported around 111 Blake St. in Lewiston on Friday evening.

LEWISTON, Maine — Shots were fired and several men were detained early Friday night after a man with a gun opened fire on Blake Street.

The sound of gunfire was reported by several people at about 6 p.m., police said. Seconds later, at least a dozen officers were in the area as suspects scattered and reports continued to come in.

A police officer detained three men at gunpoint after spotting them running from the scene. The three were ordered to the ground on Bates Street, near the corner of Ash.

Farther up Ash Street, another man was caught by police, allegedly as he fled the same scene.

The shots were fired near the corner of Blake and Pine streets, witnesses said. Reports that a woman had been shot and that the shooter might still be hiding inside 111 Pierce St. added confusion.

At about 6:30 p.m., the woman reported to have been shot came outside to declare that she was fine. She never reported being hit by gunfire, she said, and didn’t call police.

Others not only heard the gunfire but saw the shooter in action.

One woman who lives nearby said she had just come inside from playing with her child when she heard the explosion of gunfire outside.

The shooter, described as a young man, was in the alley between tenements when he fired the first shot, that woman said. The shooter then dropped something and after running back to retrieve it, he jumped into a car that had been parked at the corner of Blake and Pine.

“He got in the car and fired four more times,” she said. “I saw him stick his hand right out the window and start shooting. He shot up in the air. There was no point to it, really. Apparently, he wanted somebody to know he was out there.”

Other witnesses told similar stories.

“Pop and then pop, pop, pop, pop,” said one man who had been walking through the area at the time. “Four shots, at least.”

For a time, police surrounded the three-story tenement at 111 Blake St. with guns drawn. They were hampered by a large and growing crowd of spectators, who stood on sidewalks, watched from porches and leaned from windows.

Groups yelled back and forth across Blake Street. Accusation and rumor spread from one side of the street to the other. The number of onlookers continued to climb.

“There are a lot of irresponsible parents,” another woman said, “bringing their kids out here to watch all of this.”

One witness described the car the shooter fled in as a white sedan, possibly a Mitsubishi. Police were given similar descriptions from other witnesses.

An hour after the shots were first reported, there was still confusion at the scene. A fifth man was taken into custody in front of 111 Blake St. It was unclear how he was connected to the shooting.

The lower end of Blake Street has been lively since last summer, witnesses said. Late-night parties, drug use and assaults are common.

“I’ve lived here six months,” Bowman said. “And I’ve probably seen the cops out here 10 times.”

Later Friday night, Lt. Adam Higgins said police were still interviewing witnesses about the shooting. No arrest had been made and no weapon had been recovered. The investigation was expected to continue overnight.

An hour after police arrived, a bearded man stood on the sidewalk, watching the officers interviewing witnesses.

“Let Jesus sort it out,” he shouted across the street. “That’s what it all comes to, anyway.”

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