GUILFORD, Maine — The Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office said it has recovered the gun that was used to shoot a man during a street brawl in Guilford on Monday evening.
On Monday, four people were sent to Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft for treatment of wounds including a gunshot to the forearm, dog bites and blows from baseball bats. In all, eight men and three males under the age of 18 were involved, Chief Deputy Bob Young said on Wednesday.
The 9 mm handgun that was used to shoot at a Rottweiler that attacked members of the other group was recovered from the Piscataquis River on Tuesday evening, Young said. While firing at the dog, the shooter hit the owner of the dog in the forearm.
Police have not made any arrests and have not released the names of any involved in the incident.
Young said the Rottweiler survived and is being quarantined by an animal control officer.
Two women who happened to be walking by witnessed the fight, said Young. After the gun was fired, it was knocked onto the ground.
“One of the women decided she was going to get the gun out of the way so no one else would use it,” he said. “So she picked it up and tossed it into the river.”
A Maine State Police Dive Team recovered the gun, Young said.
The sheriff’s office has interviewed everyone involved, with the exception of one man who was still too injured to talk.
“We’re waiting for the young guy to recover enough so we can interview him,” said the chief deputy,adding that the man suffered serious injuries from baseball bat strikes and dog bites. “Then we’ll put it together and we’ll give it to the [district attorney].”
The incident began in Dexter on July 4, said Young, when a young man was beaten up. That led to a series of fights in the Guilford area over the past few days that culminated with Monday night’s fight where nine people on one side armed with baseball bats and knives confronted two people armed with baseball bats and accompanied by a Rottweiler.
“It just seems to continue to be escalating,” said Young. “We deal with a lot of fights, but we don’t always deal with baseball bats. There were a pile of knives [at Monday’s fight]. In that sense, and the fact that there’s a firearm, it has escalated things.”
One Guilford resident, who did not want to be named for fear of retaliation, said she was not surprised about the brawl.
“When I was in school, they were around,” she said. “It’s always been a big thing.”
She said the situation is scary.
“The fact that there’s a gun involved where he could’ve killed somebody is insane,” she said. “It’s really upsetting that this little town of Guilford has something like this happening. Hopefully the police will do something to actually stop it.”
Donna Higgins of Parkman, who was in Guilford on Wednesday, said big city violence is finding its way to small town Maine.
“Violence is getting worse and more pronounced overall,” she said. “You’re finding it more in Milo, Dover [and other Piscataquis County towns]. I’m concerned for the people here. If I lived in town, I wouldn’t go out after dark.”
Fellow Parkman resident Dodie Cullicutt said she’s heard of groups that would go around and fight, but said she was most upset that the dog was used as a weapon.
“The only thing that really [upset] me is that they tried to kill the dog,” said Cullicutt. “That’s not right.”
Higgins was also upset about the dog being shot at.
“I’m a little upset that the dog might have to be put down. It’s not the dog’s fault,” she said.
The dog’s fate is not up to police, Young said.
Police are concerned about the growing violence, he said.
“Some of the ones we’ve talked to have said that it’s a wake up call, saying ‘What the heck are we doing in this kind of thing?’” said Young. “Some of them, I’m not so sure they’re going to get that message. They have a certain mindset where they just want to one-up somebody.”
Monday’s fight could’ve easily ended in a death, he said.
“We’re trying to drive the message home to these guys that it has to stop,” he said. “We’re very fortunate this time. It’s bad to get shot in the arm, but it could’ve been different if it was just a few inches over.”
The Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department will continue to investigate the incident and search for more witnesses.