BIDDEFORD, Maine — A landlord has been charged with two counts of murder after a standoff in Biddeford that left two teenagers dead and the mother of one of the teens in the hospital with a gunshot wound, according to police.
Maine State Police said a dispute over snow removal and parking preceded the shootings.
The bodies of Derrick Thompson, 19, and his girlfriend, Alivia Welch, 18, were found inside a Sodokis Road house on Saturday evening after the standoff ended at about 10 p.m., Sgt. Mark Holmquist of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit said Sunday afternoon.
James Pak, 74, who owns and resides in the two-unit Cape Cod-style house, has been charged with two counts of murder in connection with the deaths and could face additional charges after the state Attorney General’s Office reviews the case, Holmquist said. According to a Monday press release, Pak will make his initial appearance at 1 p.m. Monday in York County Superior Court in Alfred.
Holmquist said Pak does not appear to have a criminal history in Maine.
Thompson’s mother, Susan Johnson, 44, who also was shot, was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she is in stable condition, Holmquist said.
Johnson’s 7-year-old son, who was hiding in a bedroom at the back of the apartment, was uninjured and is staying with family members, he said.
Holmquist said that Biddeford police initially were called to 17A Sodokis Road around 6 p.m. to look into a report of a dispute between Pak and Thompson.
“The issues specifically identified that day were snow removal in the yard and cars not being moved” during Saturday’s snowstorm, Holmquist said. He said the family had been renting from Pak since October.
The officers left shortly before 7 p.m. after determining that no crime had been committed and that no serious threat had been made by Pak, the sergeant said.
“Derrick Thompson told police officers that he did not feel threatened by Mr. Pak and his actions,” he said.
Three minutes later, the officers were called back to the scene after Susan Johnson reported that shots had been fired, Holmquist said.
After an initial assessment it was determined that Thompson and Welch were in grave condition, that Johnson was wounded and that the alleged shooter was still inside, he said.
“Two Biddeford officers were able to get [Susan Johnson and her child] out of the house and into a neighbor’s residence to safety,” he said.
After establishing a perimeter, Biddeford police called in the state police tactical team as well as crisis negotiators with the state police and the Biddeford Police Department.
Pak surrendered to police shortly before 10 p.m., after nearly three hours of talking with the crisis negotiators, Holmquist said. He said that a pistol was used in the shootings but declined to provide specifics.
Holmquist said Sunday that it was not clear how long the landlord-tenant dispute had been going on when the shootings took place or if other conflicts had been in play.
“We’re still looking into that,” he said.
Andrew Lemelin, 19, who lives across the street from the Pak home, told the Maine Sunday Telegram that Pak was known in the neighborhood for getting angry at his neighbors.
Lemelin also said he knew some of the former tenants, who described Pak as a horrible landlord who would peer in their windows.
At the time of this death, Derrick Thompson was employed by Real Clean, a company that provides auto dealers with employees who clean and detail vehicles, according to a post on Patriot Subaru’s Facebook page.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news about Derrick Thompson (19) and his girlfriend Alivia Welch (18) of Biddeford were shot and killed yesterday,” the post said. “ … Derrick had worked on and off with Patriot, and was close to a number of the associates. Our sincerest condolences to the families involved, we are grieving for your loss.”
The shootings remain under investigation by state and Biddeford police, who planned to remain at the house most of Sunday gathering evidence and conducting interviews, Holmquist said.
The bodies of the two teens were transported Sunday morning to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta, where autopsies were expected to begin Sunday afternoon.