WATERVILLE, Maine — An Augusta man was taken into protective custody Thursday afternoon after he was found waving a BB gun in a crowded shopping plaza, police said Friday.
Darren Costa, 47, was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Waterville for a psychological evaluation following the incident, according to Chief Joseph Massey.
Police were called to the Elm Plaza around 12:30 p.m. Thursday when several shoppers reported there was a man strolling the parking lot waving a gun, according to Massey.
When officers arrived, they found Costa sitting on the ground, and after several warnings by police to put his hands in the air, Costa put one hand up, revealing the gun, Massey said.
“At the same time he started to reach into a sweater pocket,” Massey said.
Police didn’t shoot, and kept warning Costa to drop his weapon, the police chief said. A short time later, Costa put down the gun. At that point, officers approached the 6-foot-8-inch, 255-pound suspect and took him into custody, Massey said.
“He’s a big guy,” the chief said.
Massey said police initially couldn’t tell that Costa’s weapon was a BB gun as opposed to a semiautomatic rifle, but the safety of the public were officers’ first priority.
“You’ve got to handle it like it’s a real gun,” Massey said. “I was just amazed that everybody restrained themselves from pulling the trigger.”
“It was pretty tense, given the recent gun violence across the country,” said Massey.
The incident occurred at a time of day where shopping traffic in the Elm Plaza was high.
“The front was completely packed with cars,” Massey said.
Costa remained at the hospital Friday, and it’s unclear what, if any, charges he will face following Thursday’s incident, according to Massey.