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‘They wanted to kill him’: Wife of Ellsworth man shot by police details June 1 standoff

Posted June 08, 2014, at 3:25 p.m.
Last modified June 08, 2014, at 8:27 p.m.
Ellsworth resident Vicki Barnard, 56, whose husband Jeffrey Paul Barnard, 50, was shot  June 1 by Maine State Police Trooper Scott Duff after a shootout and lengthy standoff with police, indicates on her face where the bullet entered her husband's eye socket.
Nok-Noi Ricker | BDN
Ellsworth resident Vicki Barnard, 56, whose husband Jeffrey Paul Barnard, 50, was shot June 1 by Maine State Police Trooper Scott Duff after a shootout and lengthy standoff with police, indicates on her face where the bullet entered her husband's eye socket. Buy Photo

BANGOR, Maine — The wife of an Ellsworth man shot last week by a Maine State Police tactical team member during an armed confrontation and standoff said Sunday he is in a medically induced coma.

“He’s still in critical condition,” Vicki Barnard, 56, said of her husband of 19 years. Jeffrey Paul Barnard, 50, was shot by Trooper Scott Duff on the morning of June 1 after a shootout and standoff with police that started the day before.

“They wanted to kill him,” she said. “He was shot in the right tear duct, and it came out his left jaw. The doctor doesn’t know how he’s going to fix his jaw. There is nothing left.”

Barnard said her husband — who has a lengthy criminal that includes federal, state and California convictions, as well as prior police standoffs — was placed in the coma by doctors to help him heal. He is also on a respirator. She said he does not like police, and they do not like him because he is a convicted felon.

The Barnards are both medical marijuana patients, she said.

The couple had been growing their medical marijuana in a shop and living in a camper, located at 303 North St. for three years on land owned by a disabled veteran, who was being cared for by the couple, Vicki Barnard said.

“We’ve never had a problem in the three years until his daughter moved in,” she said.

Police issued a criminal threatening summons to Jeff Barnard on Friday morning and served him with a protection order, according to Ellsworth police Lt. Harold Page.

Vicki Barnard said both complaints involved the veteran’s daughter.

The landowner complained to police about 8:03 a.m. May 31 that Barnard had stolen the keys to a tractor. Officers went to the scene to investigate, and the confrontation with Jeff Barnard began immediately, Page said.

Ellsworth police said Sunday they could not answer questions about who made the initial call to police and said to call back Monday to speak with Page. A Sunday email to Page about who made the call — the veteran or his daughter — was not returned.

Vicki Barnard said the couple had possession of the tractor keys for the last three years and refused to give them to the responding police officer, who called in reinforcements.

Ellsworth police summoned state police for assistance. State police negotiators went to the home, but the agency’s tactical unit was at a fatal shooting in Aroostook County and didn’t arrive until early Sunday. Bangor police also provided assistance. A portion of Route 179, also known as North Street, was shut down for most of Saturday, May 31, and didn’t reopen until 11 a.m. Sunday, June 1.

When police units converged on the scene, Barnard and his wife refused to come out of the camper, Page said.

“At one point, he displayed a five-gallon can he said was full of gas and threatened to blow the place up,” the lieutenant said.

The convicted felon also brandished a .22-caliber rifle during the standoff, he said.

Police used a truck mounted with a battering ram in an attempt to get the couple to exit the camper. In doing so, “they pushed my bedroom all the way up to my bathroom,” Vicki Barnard said.

“He was extremely upset,” she said. “That is why he didn’t leave the camper. My husband is paranoid of cops.”

The tactical team was able to shoot a can of tear gas into the camper, and her husband pulled the items away from the door he placed there to barricade the couple inside, Vicki Barnard said.

“The minute he opened the door — they shot him,” she said. “I said, ‘Where are you hit?’ He said, ‘In the face. They shot me in the face.’”

Blood was everywhere.

“He said, ‘Baby, I’m dying.’ He asked me not to leave, but [after about 30 minutes] I finally convinced him he needed medical attention. He told me to take the dog and leave, so I did. He said, ‘I’ll be right out.’ He took his leg off — he wears a prosthetic — and he crawled out on his hands and knees.”

“It took four officers to put him on the ground, when he was already on the ground,” Vicki Barnard said.

Barnard has not been charged by police, but he is facing a host of potential charges for being a felon in possession of a firearm, firing shots at police officers, threatening to blow up the camper with a can of gasoline, and throwing a Molotov cocktail during the standoff, according to Page.

Vicki Barnard was charged with creating a police standoff but was not arrested.

“If he recovers, my husband is not going to be the same,” she said. “It’s in God’s hands. [Whether] my husband survives is in God’s hands.”

BDN reporters Jen Lynds and Bill Trotter contributed to this story.

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