June 20, 2018
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Newly released 911 transcripts indicate Biddeford man accused in double murder case was suicidal

Facebook photo | BDN
Facebook photo | BDN
Derrick Thompson (left) and Alivia Welch.
By Dina Mendros, Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD, Maine — In emergency call transcripts, a man admits to shooting several people in a landlord-tenant dispute last year and then threatens suicide. The transcripts were released by the Office of the Attorney General on Tuesday.

On Dec. 29, Derrick Thompson, 19, and Alivia Welch, 18, of Biddeford, were fatally shot at their Biddeford apartment at 17 Sokokis Road. Also shot was Susan Johnson, Thompson’s mother, who survived her injuries.

Johnson’s landlord, James Earl Pak, 75, is charged with the murders and with attempted murder.

Pak, who is being held at the York County Jail in Alfred, pleaded not guilty to five charges in March. In addition to the murder and attempted murder counts, the Biddeford man is charged with elevated aggravated assault and burglary.

The shootings took place in an apartment that Pak and his wife rented to Johnson. The apartment is attached to the Paks’ garage, and both families shared a driveway.

The shootings stemmed from a dispute between the landlord and tenants regarding “the number of cars in the driveway and the inability of the landlord to get snow removed,” Sgt. Mark Holmquist of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit told the Journal Tribune in a telephone interview the day after the shooting.

The related 911 call transcripts were released after the Supreme Judicial Court ruled last week in favor of MaineToday Media Inc., the parent company of the Portland Press Herald, finding that law enforcement officials failed to show how releasing the transcripts could harm the investigation into the murders.

Excerpts from the transcript of emergency calls made to Biddeford police dispatchers reveal more detail of what led up to the shootings and the aftermath.

Although the names of the callers and the addresses were redacted in the transcripts, from information previously released by police, it appears that the first call was made by Thompson, who requested that police come to the 17 Sokokis Road address. A second call by a victim of the shooting was apparently made by Johnson; and a third call is between dispatch, a woman who identified herself as James Pak’s wife, Armit Pak, and the man she said is her husband.

The first call was made shortly before 6 p.m., according to Holmquist.

In an excerpt from the transcript before the shooting, the caller states, “Can you send a cruiser like, immediately, I got my landlord freaking out at me as you can hear in the background.”

Later, the caller states, “He’s giving me death threats, pointing his fingers like it’s a gun going bang. I got it all on video. All I’m trying to do is shovel.”

When Biddeford police arrived, they spent 30 to 40 minutes talking with the families, said Holmquist. Three minutes after they departed, they were dispatched back to the apartment for a report of shots fired, after Johnson called 911.

In an excerpt from the transcript, from the call that appears to have been made by Johnson, the caller states, “We’ve all been shot, please hurry. …

“My neighbor just came in and shot us. Please hurry. …”

The caller notes that neither Thompson nor Welch respond when she calls out to them and that she has a 6-year-old son who is in the bedroom who she believes is unhurt.

The caller says she was shot in the back, and at one point, she says she has difficulty breathing and that blood from her wound was pooling.

There is an extended exchange between the caller, asking the police to hurry, and the dispatcher stating that the police want to make sure it’s safe to for them to enter the premises.

Shortly before the end of the transcript, police rescue the boy. The transcript ends when the dispatcher says emergency personnel will be in soon to remove the caller from the apartment.

Another transcript is of a call between a woman who identifies herself as James Pak’s wife, Armit, and Biddeford dispatch.

The man Armit Pak identifies as her husband can be heard in the background.

During the call, Biddeford dispatch repeatedly asks the woman to get Pak to put down the gun, which he and his wife say he is holding, according to the transcript.

At various times during the call, according to the transcript, the man identified as James Pak admits to shooting the victims.

He also talks about dying.

In one excerpt from the transcript he says, “I’m gonna die anyway. I want to die.”

Later he says, “I’m gonna shoot myself.”

“He thinks he’s helping other landlords,” Armit Pak is recorded to have said.

In disjointed statements, the man says, “Nobody listen. And I’ve been warning and warning … They’re dead. No more laugh at me no more!”

At one point, he threatens to shoot his wife.

At the end of the transcript, the man says, “I wanna die. … Shoot me, that way I’m happy. I can shoot myself. I can shoot.”

Pak surrendered at approximately 10 p.m., according to police.

When reached by telephone Tuesday, Pak’s attorney Joel Vincent said he had not read the transcripts, and therefore declined to comment whether he thought their release would negatively impact his client’s case.

He said he had listened to the calls and said that they illustrate that his client was suffering “acute distress” the night of the shootings.

On Friday, said Vincent, a status conference was held in the case, and as a result, he said, Pak will be subject to a mental health examination. Vincent said he hopes his client will be transferred from the Alfred jail to the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta.

Being in the Alfred jail “is not an easy situation for someone of his age and fragile state of mind,” said Vincent.

In addition to the criminal case against him, Pak and his wife are being sued by Johnson in civil court. In her complaint, Johnson alleges assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, violation of the uniform fraudulent transfer act, premises liability and trespass by the Paks.

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