May 27, 2018
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Woman surrenders after standoff ends in Crouseville

By Julia Bayly, BDN Staff

CROUSEVILLE, Maine — A woman surrendered to state police about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday after a standoff that lasted several hours and shut down a section of Route 164 in Aroostook County, according to police.

The 44-year-old woman was taken into custody by the Washburn Police Department after the standoff ended, said Police Chief Roy Guidry on Tuesday evening. The woman, who police are not identifying because she has not yet been charged, was taken from the scene by ambulance to The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle with self-inflicted injuries that were not life-threatening, Guidry said.

Once she is released from the hospital, she will face charges stemming from the incident at her home on Flewelling Drive, just off Route 164, according to Guidry.

Close to 10 miles of state highway between Washburn and Presque Isle was blocked early Tuesday morning as officers from several agencies responded to a call about a domestic incident in Crouseville, a village in Washburn.

“Around 1 a.m. we got a call that a female had assaulted her boyfriend and a weapon was involved,” Guidry said. “Due to the nature of the weapon and for concern for the safety of the public and for the subject [and] after unsuccessfully being able to contact the subject, I called in the Maine State Police tactical team.”

Members of the tactical team were joined by members of the Maine State Police crisis negotiating team, troopers from the Maine State Police Houlton barracks and Aroostook County sheriff’s deputies. Members of Crown Ambulance and the Washburn Fire Department also were on hand, Guidry said.

“After approximately 9 1/2 hours of negotiating, the subject surrendered,” Guidry said.

Joe Whitten, who lives about 100 yards from the scene of the standoff on Flewelling Drive off Route 164, said Tuesday morning that he was awoken just after midnight by his neighbor pounding on Whitten’s front door and calling out Whitten’s name.

“I went downstairs, opened the door and [the neighbor] just fell onto the floor,” Whitten said shortly after the standoff ended. “He said to me, ‘She’s going to kill me.’”

Whitten said he assumed his neighbor, who he said is in his 60s and has lived at 24 Flewelling Drive for about 10 years, was talking about his girlfriend, but added he did not know her name. The Bangor Daily News is not naming the neighbor because he is considered a victim.

“He had a cut and was bleeding over one eye,” said Whitten. “I called the cops and they got here right quick.”

Members of the Washburn Police Department and Aroostook County Sheriff’s Department were first on the scene.

Joe Whitten said he then watched members of the Maine State Police tactical units arriving about 2 a.m.

“They sure don’t make much noise,” he said of the team’s arrival.

Whitten said he and his wife, Germaine, also contacted the man’s son, who came to pick up his father, and the two men left the Whitten home around 2:30 a.m., Joe Whitten said.

Guidry would not specify the man’s injuries Tuesday afternoon.

After the police had secured the area, another neighbor, Nelson Bouchard, said he could hear someone trying to communicate through a bullhorn with the woman. Bouchard said he could not understand what was being said.

At 6:30 a.m., the Whittens were just sitting down for their morning cup of coffee when law enforcement officers knocked on the door and told them they had to evacuate.

Police then used the upstairs bedroom and bathroom of the Whittens’ home to place sharpshooters and observe the home next door, according to the Whittens.

“They were using our windows to look out,” Joe Whitten said. When the couple looked upstairs “the bathroom and bedroom were just loaded with guns.”

The Whittens evacuated to the nearby home of Bouchard, 66, who lives part of the year in Connecticut and part of the year in his Crouseville home.

Bouchard, who was in town to keep an eye on the ice and potential flooding situation of the nearby Aroostook River, said he noticed activity at the Whitten home in the early hours of the morning, but did not know the full extent of the situation until Joe and Germain Whitten knocked on his door around 6:30 a.m.

“I went out to the [state police] command vehicle to ask what was going on around 4:15 this morning,” Bouchard said. “They didn’t tell me much, but did tell me Joe was OK.”

After the Whittens arrived at Bouchard’s, the three spent the rest of the morning watching the activity through binoculars.

Bouchard said that shortly after 10 a.m., he saw a woman dressed in a blue shirt and black slacks come out of the home. She appeared to speak with police, re-enter the home and come out a few seconds later and surrender, he said.

Right before the surrender, Bouchard said, he observed tactical team members outfitting an armored vehicle with a battering ram.

At about 10:45 a.m., dozens of state police cars lined Route 164 near Flewelling Drive. A command van was parked in a residential driveway with a remote-control robot in position next to it.

Heavily armed members of the state tactical unit in full response gear also were walking around the site.

Contact was established with the woman via bullhorn around 7:30 a.m., Guidry said, and continued off and on until she surrendered.

Guidry credited his fellow law enforcement officers for the peaceful resolution of the incident.

“It’s thanks to the professionalism of the tactical team and the negotiating team,” he said. “They did an excellent job.”

The Whittens also said later Tuesday morning that law enforcement personnel were very good to them during the standoff, at one point retrieving eye medication for Germaine Whitten after the couple had been evacuated.

“They even offered to wash my rugs where they tracked dirt in,” Germaine Whitten said.

Correction: In a previous version of this story, it was reported that Stephen McCausland said the woman surrendered without injury. Washburn Police Chief Roy Guidry said the woman was taken from the scene by ambulance to The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle with self-inflicted injuries.

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