NEWTON, New Hampshire — A Maine man wanted by Presque Isle police in connection with an alleged sexual assault was killed in a gunfight with officers following a vehicle chase that started Thursday night in Massachusetts and ended in a crash around midnight in New Hampshire.
At a press conference in New Hampshire Friday morning, Massachusetts State Police said Michael Brown, 40, of Presque Isle, Maine, died from the gunshot wounds after the shootout with police.
The one-hour chase began late Thursday night in Malden, Massachusetts, where local police recognized the suspect as being wanted in Maine after a bulletin for his arrest was issued. The Massachusetts State Police took up the pursuit after it left Malden.
Brown shot at the state police cruisers during the pursuit which wound through the Merrimack Valley along Interstate 495, police said. At one point during the chase, he drove the wrong way on I-495 in Amesbury, traveling northbound on the southbound side before taking a ramp in the wrong direction and getting off the highway.
The suspect drove much of the way on damaged tires after he struck spike strips but did not stop, police said.
Brown eventually crashed into a tree at about 11:51 p.m. at the intersection of Bear Hill Road and Amesbury Road in Newton, New Hampshire, where he exchanged more gunshots with police.
Brown “was subsequently shot and killed during a brief confrontation between the suspect and several Massachusetts State Troopers,” according to a statement released Friday by New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald. Brown, who was declared dead at the scene, was the sole occupant of the vehicle.
The following video from Keith Sevigny captures part of the police chase as it passed through Newton, New Hampshire, a 1/4 mile from the eventual crash site. Warning: This video contains strong language.
POLICE CHASE! Right through newton NH. Coming from amesbury Massachusetts. 50+ state troopers. Sorry for profanity.
Posted by Keith Sevigny on Thursday, June 15, 2017
There were no reported injuries to troopers or anyone other than the suspect, police said.
An autopsy completed Friday by Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas A. Andrew determined that Brown died of a single gunshot wound to the neck, according to MacDonald.
The state attorney general said the names of the officers involved in the shooting were being withheld at this time. More information may be released as the investigation unfolds.
The chase lit up social media, with unsubstantiated claims concerning the number of police cars involved, the roads the chase followed and whether a state police helicopter was involved.
Brown had been sought by police since June 7 when he was accused of a sexual assault in Presque Isle, according to Presque Isle detective Kris Beck.
Beck said earlier this week that he had spoken with Brown over the phone on June 7 and arranged to meet with him. Brown did not show up for the meeting, however, and Beck and other officers have been trying to locate him since.
“I believe he’ll try to flee the state and the charges,” Beck said Wednesday.
Then on Thursday afternoon, the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office posted an alert on its Facebook page warning residents to be looking for a stolen gold 2001 Toyota Tacoma with Maine Veteran plate V81665. The post said the vehicle possibly was being driven by Michael Brown who “is believed to be armed with a handgun and should be considered dangerous.”
The sheriff’s office confirmed in a subsequent post on Friday that the vehicle had been recovered in New Hampshire that morning following a shootout with the driver, who was killed.
On Friday afternoon, Aroostook County Sheriff Darrell Crandall said the truck and handgun had been stolen earlier this week from Westfield, a neighboring town of Presque Isle. He said no one was hurt during the theft, but he did not release any further details about that incident.
Brown has a previous criminal history.
In 2008, he was convicted for a 2007 kidnapping in Presque Isle and sentenced to 12 years in prison with all but five suspended, according to Bangor Daily News archives. In 2012, he was convicted of domestic violence assault and criminal threatening for a separate incident in Waterville and was sentenced to three years in prison.
Writers Josh Archer and Anthony Brino of the Presque Isle Star-Herald contributed to this report.