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Man shot in Ellsworth standoff faces federal charges for being a felon with a firearm

Courtesy of Hancock County Jail
Courtesy of Hancock County Jail
Jeffrey Barnard, June 18, 2014
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — An Ellsworth man who exchanged gunfire with police during an overnight standoff that ended when he was shot in the face earlier this month, agreed
Friday to be held without bail pending the outcome of a federal gun charge.

Jeffrey Paul Barnard, 50, appeared about 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Nivison in U.S. District Court on one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Barnard had a white bandage over his left eye and at the base of his throat. The left side of his face appeared to be swollen and his speech was slightly slurred.

He did not enter a plea because he has not yet been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gail Malone, who is prosecuting the case, told Nivison that she expected an indictment to be handed up July 16.

Defense attorney Wayne Foote of Bangor said that Barnard might seek to be released later for a limited time to receive further medical treatment. The lawyer did not say when that might happen.

Barnard was shot by Maine State Police Trooper Scott Duff on the morning of June 1 after a lengthy standoff with police that included Barnard holding a .22-caliber rifle, threatening to blow up his camper with a can of gasoline and throwing a Molotov cocktail, Ellsworth police Lt. Harold Page said.

“Officers recovered a .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle with a loaded magazine and a round in the chamber” from inside Barnard’s camper, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Friday by Special Agent Tyler Leighton of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

“They also found 70 rounds of .22-caliber ammunition, spent .22-caliber shell casings and a Molotov cocktail-type explosive device.”

Barnard has a lengthy criminal record that includes federal, Maine and California convictions, as well as prior police standoffs.

He also has prior federal convictions for being a felon in possession of a firearm, from San Bernardino, California, in July 1996 and Maine in July 2004. As a convicted felon, Barnard is banned for life from owning or possessing any firearms. He also was convicted in November 1997 of assaulting a police officer in Millinocket.

Aside from the firearms convictions, he also has been convicted of violating his federal probation by using marijuana, which he has said he uses to treat chronic pain, for trespassing in California and assaulting a police officer.

Barnard decided to check himself out of Eastern Maine Medical Center on Wednesday and was promptly arrested for assault and theft in relation to the standoff, Page said. He was transferred Wednesday to Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth, where he was held for two days on state charges of theft, assault, criminal use of explosives, possession of a firearm by a felon and reckless conduct. He was picked up Friday by federal marshals for his Bangor court appearance at the Margaret Chase Smith Federal Building.

Malone said that Barnard was released from the Ellsworth jail on personal recognizance bail so that once the state charges are resolved, the time Barnard is held on the federal charge will count toward a state sentence.

Page, acting chief of the Ellsworth Police Department, said Friday that the state charges will remain pending while prosecutors wait to see what the eventual outcome of the federal charges might be. Barnard has prior convictions on state charges in Maine of criminal trespass, disorderly conduct, and violating conditions of release.

Early June 1, Barnard was shot in the face, with the bullet entering his right eye socket and exiting through his left jaw, Vicki Barnard, 56, said two weeks ago of her husband of 19 years.

Both Barnards are medical marijuana patients, she said.

He was placed in a medical coma by doctors to help him heal but recovered enough Wednesday to call the Bangor Daily News.

“I have no memory of the incident,” Jeff Barnard said a few hours prior to his arrest. “I remember about a week before. I have no recollection about what happened.”

Barnard said his supply of medical marijuana was stolen after the incident. Page said the couple filed a theft report, valuing the stolen medicinal marijuana at $20,000.

The standoff was precipitated when police issued a criminal threatening summons to Barnard on May 30 and served him with a protection order, Page has said.

The landowner of 303 North St., where the Barnards lived in a camper, then complained to police at 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 Barnard began immediately, Page said.

Police used a truck mounted with a battering ram in an attempt to get the couple to exit their camper, and the state police tactical team was able to shoot a can of tear gas into the camper.

Vicki Barnard said that when Jeff Barnard exited the camper, he was shot.

She was charged with creating a police standoff but was not arrested.

Barnard also threatened suicide several times during the standoff, saying he “ain’t going back to prison,” the federal complaint states.

Barnard is facing up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 for the federal charge.

BDN writer Bill Trotter contributed to this report.

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