HERMON, Maine — Brawls that broke out Friday night during a wedding reception led to the arrest of two of the guests — one of them on four felony charges, a sergeant with the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.
The series of incidents that led to the arrests began shortly after 11 p.m. Friday, when the management at Morgan Hill Event Center called police to report that several people attending the reception were fighting, Sgt. Michael Burgess of the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department said.
Some of the guests reportedly were using beer bottles as weapons. Burgess said there were many broken beer bottles near the facility’s entrance.
Burgess said the police reports connected to the case did not indicate what sparked the brawling or who the bride and groom were.
“It could have been the Montagues and Capulets,” he said referring to the warring families in William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” “It was more like the Hatfields and the McCoys,” he added, referring to arguably the most famous family feud in the U.S.
“It was a pretty good-sized crowd. [The reception] must have been winding down. I’m sure that alcohol was on-board. The whole thing was pretty chaotic,” he said.
Deputy Peter Garland, who is assigned to Hermon, was first to arrive.
“There was a crowd of more than 20 people in the parking lot,” Burgess said, adding that many of the people were fighting.
When Garland saw what he was up against, he called for backup, Burgess said. Among those who responded were other Penobscot County sheriff’s deputies, at least one Maine State Police trooper and officers from the Bangor, Brewer and Hampden police departments.
Burgess said there also were reports of fighting inside the event center but that apparently stopped when police officers began converging on the scene.
The first wedding guest to be placed under arrest was William Gillespie, 46, of Princeton, Burgess said.
Garland approached Gillespie after he saw him push a woman who was following him as he exited the event center, Burgess said.
“[Garland] went over to go confront him and when he did, the subject turned around and said some profanities at him. Then he squared off and raised his fists” and began punching, Burgess said.
Burgess said Gillespie “continued to swing” even after he was sprayed in the face with pepper spray. “He tried to kick [Garland] in the groin but [Garland] blocked him with his leg,” Burgess said.
By about that time, law enforcement officers from several agencies began to arrive.
“While this is all going on, this other guy came up and started getting in [Garland’s] face,” Burgess said. The man was later identified as Shawn McLean, 25, of Winterport.
McLean was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge after several warnings to calm himself down, Burgess said.
Burgess said Gillespie — who initially was going to be charged with disorderly conduct and assault on a police officer, which is a felony offense — racked up additional charges after he was placed in the back of Garland’s police cruiser.
“He decides he’s going to kick out the window,” Burgess said. In addition to the smashed glass, Gillespie damaged the door frame.
In the struggle that ensued, Gillespie reportedly grabbed Deputy Mark Lloyd by the throat and bit state police Trooper Tucker Bonnevie’s finger, resulting in two more felony charges of assault on a police officer.
Meanwhile, Garland was struck in the back by a beer bottle by an unknown bystander, Burgess said.
The officers were not seriously injured and did not require medical treatment, Burgess said.
Friday night’s assault was Garland’s second at Morgan Hill this year. In January, he was assaulted by a Bangor High School student who was attending a formal dance hosted by a high school girls sorority, Burgess said at the time.
Burgess said incidents requiring a police response are rare at the event center. The two incidents this year were the only ones that Burgess recalls having happened there.
Other charges Gillespie is facing include refusing to submit to arrest or detention and aggravated criminal mischief, Burgess said. The criminal mischief charge was elevated to Class C felony status because damage to Garland’s police cruiser put it out of service for several days while repairs are made.
Burgess said the town of Hermon will pay to have the damage repaired but he will submit the bill to the Penobscot County district attorney’s office so restitution can be sought.
Both men were taken to the Penobscot County Jail after their arrests and both are now out on bail, Burgess said Monday.