ALFRED, Maine — The landlord accused of shooting two of his tenants to death Saturday had threatened violence against them earlier in the day and returned with a gun shortly after a police officer had left the tenants’ apartment, according to a police affidavit.
James Pak, 74, is accused of killing his tenants, 19-year-old Derrick Thompson and 18-year-old Alivia Welch, and shooting Thompson’s mother, 44-year-old Susan Johnson, in a dispute over snow removal, late rent and parking. He was ordered held without bail Monday during his initial appearance in York County Superior Court.
Thompson had told Biddeford Police Officer Edward Dexter that he did not believe Pak would follow through with an earlier threat to come back and shoot him, according to an affidavit written by Maine State Police Detective Corey Pike. Pak allegedly returned to the apartment at 17A Sokokis Road minutes later and opened fire, shooting each of his victims multiple times.
The situation began to unfold at about 6 p.m. Saturday when Thompson called police to say that Pak was banging on his doors, yelling and making threats. Officer Dexter determined there had been a dispute between Pak and the tenants over late rent and parking, according to the affidavit. Though Pak had threatened violence, Thompson had told Dexter he didn’t believe Pak would follow through.
Dexter left the scene at 6:51 p.m. Susan Johnson called at 6:54 p.m. to report that she had been shot in the back by Pak and that Pak also had shot Thompson and Welch. Johnson and her uninjured 6-year-old son were evacuated from the residence. Thompson and Welch were declared dead at the scene.
At 7:02 p.m., Pak’s wife called police to say that her husband was walking around with a gun and threatening to kill himself. Biddeford Police Sgt. Norm Allaire was able to coax Pak outside.
“Pak told Sgt. Allaire that [had] he shot the tenants,” reads the affidavit. “He shot an older female, a young adult male and his girlfriend. Pak stated to Sgt. Allaire that he shot them several times and he knew they were all dead.”
During a later interview at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Johnson told police that she and Thompson had been in the driveway earlier in the day and that Pak was harassing the young man about shoveling snow and cars being parked in the driveway. Johnson allegedly videotaped that confrontation on her cellphone.
Johnson said that after Officer Dexter left, Pak walked into the apartment with a handgun and told the tenants that he was going to shoot them.
“Johnson thought Pak was joking and then Pak shot Johnson twice, once in the arm and once in the back. Johnson tried to hide behind the Christmas tree,” reads the affidavit.
Pak then shot Thompson, according to Johnson’s account, while Johnson laid on the floor pretending she was dead because she did not want to be shot again. Johnson then heard Welch scream, “Don’t shoot, stop,” and then there were two more gunshots.
The medical examiner ruled that both Thompson and Welch died from gunshot wounds to the chest. Johnson was listed in stable condition at Maine Medical Center over the weekend. Johnson’s 6-year-old son, who was hiding in a bedroom during the shootings, is staying with family members.
During an interview with police, Pak allegedly freely admitted to shooting the three people and stated that he was suicidal, according to the affidavit.
A search of Pak’s residence revealed several guns, including a Smith and Wesson revolver with “red-brown stains and the hammer cocked back,” according to the affidavit.
Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said Pak’s initial court appearance in York County Superior Court Monday lasted about five minutes, during which Pak was informed of his rights and ordered held without bail. Pak is charged with two counts of Class A murder.
Superior Court Justice Paul A. Fritzsche, who presided over Monday’s hearing, ruled that Justice John O’Neil will oversee the legal proceedings against Pak. Stokes said that either Leane Zainea or Lisa Marchese from his office will serve as prosecutor and that Portland attorney Joel Vincent will be the defense attorney. No further hearings in the case have been scheduled.