Brenda Saunders had just checked out from the Brewer Walmart late Friday afternoon when an associate told her and her mother that they would need to stay inside the store because a standoff was taking place in the parking lot outside.
Saunders, who normally lives in Florida but spends summers in Ellsworth, had arrived at the store with her mother around 3:45 p.m. They checked out and were preparing to leave around 5 p.m.
But they ended up sheltering in the store for another 2 1/2 hours as police dealt with Patrick Mullen, a 51-year-old man from Scarborough who allegedly barricaded himself with a gun inside his car in the parking lot.
Officers had responded to a 4 p.m. disorderly call at the store and found Mullen was wanted on three open warrants for failure to appear in connection with prior offenses, Brewer police Chief Jason Moffitt said.
Saunders and her mother stayed in the store near the entrance. Walmart associates gave stuck shoppers water and snacks and provided chairs for those who couldn’t stand for long stretches of time, she said.
Saunders said she was happy an associate told her and her mother of the emergency outside individually.
“I’m glad they told us that way, instead of over the loudspeaker,” she said. “I think there would’ve been a big panic otherwise.”
Around 7:30 p.m., as police were still engaged in the standoff outside, an officer took Saunders and her mother through the store’s back door. A Walmart associate escorted them to her husband Allan’s car. He had been waiting for them while they were stuck inside.
Police arrested Mullen shortly before 1 a.m. Saturday morning on a number of charges related to the standoff and the open warrants. He was charged with felony aggravated criminal mischief, four counts of violating conditions of release, operating a vehicle after a license suspension, inciting a police standoff, and owning a firearm as a prohibited person due to a domestic violence conviction, Moffitt said.
Despite the tense situation, Saunders said she felt safe in the store while police dealt with Mullen outside.
“I thought the associates did very well in handling it,” she said.