BANGOR, Maine — Courtney Hutchinson and Yuri Trusty woke to the sound of an officer knocking on their bedroom window Thursday morning, telling them to get out because their neighbor was shooting a gun inside the building.
Hutchinson, 22, and Trusty, 24, didn’t have time to put their shoes on, and were rushed out of their second-floor apartment through their bedroom window, they said. The second floor at the rear of the building is level with the ground.
Hutchinson and Trusty stood barefoot on the sidewalk alongside others who had been evacuated before walking to Paddy Murphy’s, a downtown pub, to wait out what became a tense standoff filled with gunfire that lasted into the early afternoon.
Perrin Oliver, the man accused of firing 70 rounds of ammunition inside his apartment and out the window onto city streets on the Fourth of July, seemed like a normal tenant and decent neighbor, according to residents and the owner of the three-story brick building at 47 Park St. that also houses Luna Bar and Grill.
Hutchinson and Trusty live across the hall from Oliver, 43, who police say is originally from Detroit, Mich. Oliver’s apartment faced the street, while Hutchinson and Trusty’s was at the rear.
“Every interaction we’ve had with [Oliver] has been really friendly,” Hutchinson said. Hutchinson, Trusty and other tenants said Oliver largely kept to himself, but swapped small talk with his neighbors. “I think he was a little lonely because he was new to the area,” Hutchinson said.
Oliver was scheduled to appear in court via videoconference from Penobscot County Jail Friday to hear the charges against him, but the appearance was delayed because he refused to meet with a court-appointed attorney. Bangor attorney Benjamin Fowler, who was appointed by the court to serve as Oliver’s lawyer, told Assistant District Attorney Susan Pope that Oliver had refused to meet with him on Friday.
Oliver is facing charges of Class B reckless conduct with a firearm and Class C criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, according to jail officials. His court appearance likely will be rescheduled for Monday, according to Pope.
Oliver liked to play cards, and sometimes invited neighbors to come over to play, Hutchinson said. She and some other residents took him up on the offer in the past.
Courtney Raymond and her roommate moved into a third-floor apartment the weekend before the shooting. They didn’t hear the early shots, Raymond said, and only became aware of what was going on when Bangor police Sgt. Jim Buckley, commander of the department’s Special Response Team, knocked on their door, holding a shotgun.
Raymond said she met most of her new neighbors while waiting down the street after being evacuated.
“It was definitely scary, but I feel safer now knowing who my neighbors are,” she said Friday.
While Sgt. Buckley was rousing people on the third floor, another member of the Special Response Team was working to evacuate people who lived on the same floor as Oliver.
“I was stupefied,” Hutchinson said. “I couldn’t really grasp what was happening and why.”
A woman and child fled from the residence and went to the police station after Oliver fired his gun, Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said. Police interviewed the woman and child. Neighbors said a woman and child sometimes visited Oliver’s apartment for a few days at a time, but that they don’t believe the woman and child lived there.
Police created a perimeter several blocks wide because the man was shooting out his window and evacuated residents at 47 Park St. and several other buildings in the area.
Police negotiated with Oliver for two hours and finally used tear gas to get him out of the building. Buckley said Oliver was restrained in the apartment’s hallway after he left his unit to escape the tear gas. No one was injured during the shooting or arrest.
During negotiations, Hutchinson and Trusty said they overheard bystanders saying that police should just “take down” Oliver and end the standoff.
“No one should want to see anything go down or anyone hurt if they don’t have to,” Trusty said. “This isn’t Hollywood and it isn’t Xbox. I’d much rather have police take all the time in the world than have someone get hurt.”
All tenants were able to return home later Thursday afternoon after the tear gas was cleared out of the building.
On Friday inside the building, police tape was still hanging on the banister that leads to the second floor, but was no longer blocking the stairs. Newspapers and stones were still propping open hallway doors to allow the halls to air out and get rid of any residual tear gas. Several bullet holes were visible in the walls encasing Apartment 1, each marked, apparently by investigators, with a red number.
Most residents were settling in at their apartments Friday, relaxing after the long, strange Fourth of July.
Trusty and Hutchinson said they sometimes heard shouting coming from Apartment 1, Oliver’s dwelling, but that it was never too disturbing, as it just sounded like “typical arguments.”
The owner of the property, John Karnes III, said Friday that he did extensive soundproofing when he converted the building into apartments about 12 years ago because he knew there was going to be a restaurant on the ground level. That’s likely why tenants didn’t hear the initial shots, which were audible outside. The gunfire was loud at street level because the windows were open or had bullet holes in them, according to Buckley.
He said the renovations and apartment conversion to the historic building cost about $500,000. Karnes, who owns about 80 units in the Bangor area, said he has not been able to get into Oliver’s apartment because Oliver is technically still a tenant and he can’t legally enter without giving tenants 24 hours notice. He said he plans to fix the damage and reopen the apartment as soon as he’s able to take possession of the unit.
“I’m sure the cost is going to be substantial, but it’s things that can be fixed,” Karnes said. “You can’t fix a loss of life.”
Karnes said Oliver passed all the standard tenant background checks before he moved in about eight months ago. Karnes called Oliver “a regular tenant,” and said he “wasn’t a hermit.” Karnes said he received few, if any, complaints or concerns about Oliver from other tenants.
Karnes said he has no clue what might have sparked the shooting.
Criminal background checks in Maine and Michigan obtained Friday showed Oliver has no prior record of offenses in those states.
Karnes went to the scene in “disbelief and shock” after he was notified that one of his tenants was firing off rounds. He met with officers and drew out a rough schematic of the building’s layout to help the department’s Special Response Team form a plan. Karnes said he stayed at the scene from about 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Karnes said he hasn’t experienced anything like this in 20 years as an apartment owner.
Once the incident was over, a handgun was taken into evidence and the department’s Evidence Response Team investigated the scene with the Criminal Investigations Division, Edwards and Buckley said. Buckley said he didn’t know what other evidence, weapons or ammunition police might have taken from the scene. The lead detective on the case was not in the office Friday, he said. Police say Oliver fired more than 70 rounds.
Buckley said Friday that there was no way to tell how many of those 70 rounds were fired out of the apartment’s windows because tear gas cannisters had broken out one of the windows entirely and another window was badly damaged. The sergeant said the Evidence Response Team was canvassing buildings in the area to track down damage that may have been caused by stray bullets, but he wasn’t sure what that investigation has found.
Buckley said he was pleased with his team’s performance on Thursday.
“Anytime you can end a situation without a loss of life or injury, that’s a win,” he said.