LAMOINE, Maine — A dispute over payment for a truck paint job led to the quadruple shooting earlier this month outside a Douglas Highway home that left one man dead and three others wounded, according to one of the four people shot.
Joshua McKinney, 25, of Ellsworth said Saturday that his recent arrest for drug possession has led some people to think the March 11 fatal shooting was somehow drug-related.
“It had nothing to do with drugs,” he said.
The original dispute was over a $1,200 paint job done to a truck owned by Michael Carter, the shooting victim said.
“Mike never paid us for all the work done on the truck,” McKinney said. “He had an issue and bitched about it. We’ve been friends for like 15 years. ”
McKinney said he and Torrey Garland, 34, also of Ellsworth, did the work on the truck under his business, Ellsworth Unlimited.
Police are still sorting through conflicting witness statements about the shooting that happened outside Carter’s home at 749 Douglas Highway at around 4:30 a.m. Sunday, March 11, Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said Saturday.
“We’re still trying to determine what happened,” he said.
One gun was collected as evidence, but police are not saying what type of weapon it is or whether it was the only weapon used, McCausland has said.
What police are saying is that Lawrence “Randy” Sinclair, 32, his brother Jacob Sinclair, 24, Garland and McKinney, all of Ellsworth, arrived in two vehicles at the Hancock County home of Carter, 30, and Tacy Mullins, 22.
The Ellsworth group and Carter, who “had been out partying — he was out at the bar,” had been communicating by cellphone throughout the night and early morning of March 11, McKinney said.
“I called him because he was at the bar and said something he shouldn’t have,” but got no answer. When Carter called him back, the two made peace, according to McKinney, and even spoke about McKinney painting another truck for him, he says.
“None of us realized it was that late” when “he invited us to his house” to talk, he said of Carter. “There was never any talk about fighting.” The Ellsworth group were not armed when they arrived, McKinney said.
“As we pulled into the driveway, I saw Mike Carter and Tacy come to the door,” McKinney said.
Carter had a 9 mm handgun in his hand, and “by the time I realized that, he was already shooting,” McKinney said. “I watched my best friend get shot in the forehead and another one get shot in the chest,” before getting shot himself.
Randy Sinclair was mortally wounded and later died at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where Garland still is being treated for his gunshot wound to the chest.
Garland, who was listed in critical condition at the Bangor hospital in the days after the shooting, had improved enough early last week for state police detectives to finally interview him about the incident, McCausland said.
Carter also suffered a gunshot wound that was not life-threatening, apparently caused when his girlfriend, Mullins, attempted to take the weapon, McKinney said.
“They were struggling over the gun,” he said.
Why his longtime friend started shooting is still a question McKinney is struggling with.
“It’s so out of character,” he said of Carter.
McKinney was treated at Maine Coast Memorial Hospital in Ellsworth after the shooting and quickly released and Carter was taken to EMMC. McKinney admits that he had a previous drug problem with opiates more than three years ago, and said he was able to get off them by using Suboxone, which is one of the diverted prescriptions drugs he was caught with on Friday.
He said he acquired the Suboxone, used to treat opiate addiction, “because I am going through extreme withdrawals” from the pain medicine given to him at the hospital after the shooting.
The Bangor Daily News story about McKinney’s arrest for drug possession states the charges were not related to the shooting, but people have been linking the two, he said.
“Now everybody is going to believe it was drug-related,” McKinney said. “It was not drug-related. It had to do with a vehicle.”
BDN reporter Bill Trotter contributed to this story.