MINOT, Maine — Authorities said a local man who held police at bay in a December armed standoff at his Verrill Road home burned down his house on Friday as well as the mobile home belonging to his estranged wife before leading police on two high speed chases.
Michael Callahan, 44, was taken to St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center for a mental evaluation Friday afternoon after he was arrested in Hebron, where he eventually surrendered, Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Capt. Ray Lafrance said.
Callahan’s home was a total loss.
The fire was reported just before 2 p.m.
Lafrance said Callahan led a sheriff’s deputy on a high speed chase in Minot into Mechanic Falls. At one point, Callahan pulled over, then tried to run down the deputy, who fired his weapon at Callahan before he took off again, eventually pulling over for good in Hebron, Lafrance said.
The Maine Attorney General’s Office was notified that the deputy discharged his weapon.
Laurie Callahan had called 911 to report her estranged husband was trying to kill her by running her off the road and intentionally collided with her vehicle in Mechanic Falls, Lafrance said. She was taken to a hospital.
The Office of the Maine State Fire Marshal was investigating both fires Friday. A gasoline can could be seen sitting on the ground in front of the mobile home behind crime scene tape at the Mechanic Falls site.
Authorities locked down the Poland Regional High School and Minot Consolidated School shortly after the reported fires because Callahan’s two children attend those schools, Lafrance said.
Callahan was charged with violation of bail conditions and eluding an officer. More charges are expected.
He was charged with a number of criminal violations in December after initiating an armed standoff with police at his Verrill Road home, which is off of Route 119.
Minot Fire Chief Dean Campbell said Friday firefighters responded to a fully involved structure fire. When they arrived, the garage was ablaze. The fire had entered the house from the two-car garage, which was attached. He said he believed the fire started there.
Crews set up a portable pool at the end of the long driveway and pumped water from it through hoses to an engine parked next to the structure.
“Water supply is always an issue in a small town,” Campbell said.
According to witnesses at the scene, the house is destroyed. Poland Fire Chief Mark Bosse said when firefighters arrived, the roof of the building was already fully engulfed.
According to municipal tax records, the assessed value of the two-story home is $159,000.
According to dispatchers, Callahan was seen leaving the house Friday and was believed to be armed.
A neighbor reported seeing the house on fire after Callahan departed.
Between Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 from inside his home, Callahan, 44, held police at gunpoint for more than six hours and was later charged with six counts of reckless conduct with a firearm, two counts of domestic violence criminal threatening and one count of aggravated criminal mischief. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
He has since pleaded not guilty to those felony charges in Androscoggin County Superior Court and released on $10,000 cash bail. He was ordered not to have contact with his wife, his daughter or his son as part of his bail conditions.
According to Callahan’s attorney, James Howaniec, Callahan may be pursuing an affirmative defense of not guilty by reason of insanity regarding the standoff charges.
The standoff started on Dec. 21 when police were called to the Callahan home at about 10:30 p.m. A family member had fled the house when Callahan began shooting inside, police said. An overnight standoff ended peacefully with Callahan surrendering to police about six and a half hours later, after a tactical team member returned fire.
Callahan fired about a dozen rounds, police said, and an assault weapon was among the guns seized.
No one was injured during the standoff.
Last month, Maine’s attorney general ruled that Maine State Trooper Paul Casey was justified in firing at Callahan during the standoff.
According to the AG’s investigation, Michael Callahan’s wife, Laurie Ann, and two children had left their home after Callahan, who was upset over the idea of the police arriving, loaded and displayed an AK-47 rifle with a scope, saying he wanted to die. Callahan followed his wife and children outside while he was still armed with the loaded rifle. They drove away.
Meanwhile, Callahan’s brother and sister-in-law had gone to his home after getting a call from Callahan’s son.
Callahan shot in the couple’s direction after his brother tried to stop him from leaving in a truck. He went back into his house.
His brother, Matthew, went back to the house and eventually entered the building. Callahan fired shots in his brother’s direction from upstairs. Matthew Callahan left.
Troopers and Androscoggin County Sheriff’s deputies surrounded the home. Their locations were peppered with gunshots from inside the home. The Maine State Police Tactical Team, of which Casey is a member, was called to the home.
A Hostage Negotiation Team tried to reach Callahan by phone and made 48 calls that went unanswered. The team used a loud speaker to try to communicate with Callahan, who only responded with more gunshots that struck trees and limbs near where police were stationed.
Casey established a line of sight by the sound of gunshots coming from the house. He saw what he believed was the silhouette of Callahan, firing from inside the house through a window in the daylight basement. Casey aimed and fired several rounds at that window.
Later, the police investigation showed that Casey had been roughly 165 feet from the house. He had fired 16 rounds in Callahan’s direction. While none of those rounds struck Callahan, he walked out of the house and was taken into custody within minutes of Casey’s rounds being fired.
The Attorney General’s Office is charged by law to investigate any use of deadly force involving Maine law enforcement.
AG Janet Mills concluded that it was reasonable for Casey to believe that deadly force was imminently threatened against himself and other officers.
Callahan is a former selectman in Minot and Mechanic Falls and served on the RSU 16 Board of Directors. He left that board in 2004 after learning he could not serve on the board while his wife worked in that school district.
His trial on the standoff charges is not yet scheduled.