FARMINGTON, Maine — The charge against a Farmington man who walked around downtown with a toy gun that appeared to be a real weapon has recently been reduced.
John Cushman, 20, was arrested Aug. 2 on a felony charge of terrorizing when he strolled through town with the toy gun tucked into his shorts. The charge has recently been reduced to a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed firearm.
“After reviewing the evidence, we didn’t think there was an explicit threat made to any person,” Assistant District Attorney Joshua Robbins said. Robbins is not handling the case but is aware of it.
“Cushman showed the pistol and made remarks that were vague or generalized and would have made any person pause and wonder what he meant,” Robbins said.
Cushman was originally charged with terrorizing because his actions scared people and caused them to secure themselves in a building, Shane Cote, deputy chief of Farmington Police Department, said at the time.
“He made lots of people nervous,” Cote said.
An employee at the Homestead Bakery called police and The Roost employees to warn them about a man walking around town with a gun. The Roost employees voluntarily locked down the business with patrons still inside as a precaution.
“We’re not sure that there are any actions that he took that would help us prove the charge of terrorizing,” Robbins said.
There is an element of the law that allows for the misdemeanor charge. When someone is wearing something on their person that looks like a weapon or they act like they have a weapon, they can be charged for carrying a concealed weapon, he said.
The toy gun, an Airsoft pistol, is not really a dangerous weapon, Robbins said.
“It’s not as dangerous as a BB gun,” he said. “Cushman did show the weapon to a few people and carrying it in his waistband, it looked real.”
The toy gun has an orange safety tip, the only way to know it’s a toy from any distance, he said. Stuffed in Cushman’s pants, the orange would not show and people couldn’t tell the difference.
While Farmington officer William Tanner searched for Cushman that night, a witness stopped him to ask if he knew a man was walking around with a gun. Earlier in the evening, the witness had asked Cushman what he was doing. Cushman said he was just watching out for police, Chief of Police Jack Peck said when he released details about Cushman’s arrest.
Police talked with Cushman in June after a case worker informed them that Cushman wanted to die of suicide by cop, Peck said. Cushman told police he intended to commit suicide by getting a gun and waving it around until police shot him.
The night he was arrested, Cushman told police he didn’t feel suicidal, but homicidal. He said he wanted to kill the witness who had offered Cushman $40 for the $30 gun. The discussion ended with Cushman pushing him in the face.
Cushman was taken to Franklin Memorial Hospital that night and released without an evaluation.
Sgt. Edward Hastings called Assistant District Attorney James Andrews, who advised him there was cause for an arrest.