Police: Man arrested with toy gun sought ‘suicide by cop’ in June

Posted Aug. 05, 2013, at 7:56 p.m.

FARMINGTON, Maine — Police responded to public comments Monday with more details on the arrest of a Farmington man Thursday night after he allegedly walked around downtown with a toy gun tucked into his pants.

“I’m cognizant of the fact people are allowed to carry handguns by their 2nd Amendment constitutional rights,” police Chief Jack Peck said Monday of the comments. “But, we have to look at the overall safety of people visiting and residing in the town of Farmington.”

John Cushman, 20, was arrested on a felony charge of terrorizing after Sgt. Edward Hastings notified Assistant District Attorney James Andrews, who advised him that there was ample probable cause to arrest him, Peck said.

A Homestead Bakery employee called police about 9:50 p.m. Thursday saying an adult male with a handgun tucked in his shorts was walking around town and was last seen heading for The Roost pub.

Officer William Tanner went to The Roost on Main Street but couldn’t find him. He spoke with employees who had already received a call from the employee at Homestead, Peck said.

Patrons sitting in the outdoor patio area were asked to leave that area but police did not direct that the bar be locked down, Peck said.

Tanner continued to search around downtown but didn’t find the man described.

Later, Tanner was on Broadway in his cruiser when he saw Cushman with something tucked in his shorts and two guys following him.

A witness stopped and asked Tanner if he knew about the guy walking around with a gun in his shorts, Peck said.

Earlier in the evening, the witness asked Cushman what he was doing. Cushman responded that he was just watching out for police. The witness found it odd and suspicious, Peck said.

Tanner continued to search for him but didn’t find him. At 12:15 a.m. Friday, The Roost called asking for an officer to stand by the door so patrons and employees could leave because they were afraid.

When Tanner arrived at the Main Street door, he saw the witness and Cushman sitting in front of Dunkin’ Donuts. When he got out of his cruiser, he realized it was a fake gun, Peck said.

He saw the witness take the gun from Cushman’s lap and then heard him say to Cushman, “this isn’t a joke, this is for real,” Peck said Tanner’s report revealed.

The witness asked Cushman what he was doing with the gun and Cushman responded that he “likes to go to Prescott Field and shoot things,” Peck said Tanner reported.

When asked why he didn’t leave it at home, Cushman told the witness he paid $30 for it and wanted to carry it. The witness then offered him $40 for it and Cushman pushed him in the face. The officer intervened between the two, according to the police report, Peck said.

Police Detective Marc Bowering arrived and informed Tanner of a previous interaction with Cushman in June.

Police were called in June by a caseworker who said Cushman wanted to die of “suicide by cop,” Peck said. When police responded, Cushman told them he intended to commit suicide by getting a gun and waving it around until police shot him. He voluntarily went to Franklin Memorial Hospital for an evaluation. There was no crime so he was left with hospital personnel, Peck said.

Tanner asked Cushman on Thursday night if he felt suicidal and Cushman responded no but he said he did feel homicidal. He told police he wanted to kill the witness, Peck said Tanner wrote in his report.

“If you find him dead tonight you can look at me,” Cushman was quoted in Tanner’s report, Peck said.

Police asked Cushman to go to the hospital for an evaluation and he agreed. The emergency room doctor spoke to him but then released him without an evaluation, Peck said.

Hastings then called the assistant district attorney, who advised him there was cause for an arrest and Cushman was taken to Franklin County Detention Center, Peck said.

 

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