Homes in Minot and Mechanic Falls burned; man in custody

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Firefighters from Poland, left, and Minot, right, battle a fire at 185 Verrill Road in Minot on Friday. 

MINOT — Authorities said a local man who held police at bay in a December armed standoff at his Verrill Road home burned down his house Friday, as well as the mobile home belonging to his estranged wife, before leading police on two high-speed chases.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

The Office of the Maine State Fire Marshal investigates a fire at 33 Highland Ave. in Mechanic Falls on Friday. The mobile home belongs to Michael Callahan's estranged wife, Laurie Callahan. 

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Firefighters from Turner, center, Poland, right, and Minot, left, battle the fire at 185 Verrill Road in Minot on Friday.

Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Minot firefighters wait for water to battle a fire at 185 Verrill Road in Minot on Friday. Fire trucks had to haul in water to fight the fire. 

Christopher Williams/Sun Journal

A home on Verrill Road in Minot was destroyed by fire Friday afternoon. The homeowner, Michael Callahan, has since been detained by police. Callahan faces charges of reckless conduct with a firearm and domestic violence threatening following an armed 6½-hour standoff at the same residence in December.

Daryn Slover

Michael Callahan, right, appears in Androscoggin County Superior Court with his attorney, Jim Howaniec, in this file photo from March 2013.

Michael Callahan, 44, was taken to St. Mary's Regional Medical Center for a mental evaluation after he was arrested in Hebron, where he eventually surrendered, Androscoggin County Sheriff's Capt. Ray Lafrance said.

Callahan's house was a total loss.

The fire was reported just before 2 p.m.

Lafrance said Callahan led a sheriff's deputy on a high-speed chase in Minot into Mechanic Falls. At one point, Callahan pulled over, then tried to run down the deputy, who fired his weapon at Callahan before he took off again, eventually pulling over for good in Hebron, Lafrance said.

The Maine Attorney General's Office was notified that the deputy discharged his weapon. 

Laurie Callahan had called 911 to report her estranged husband was trying to kill her by running her off the road and intentionally collided with her vehicle in Mechanic Falls, Lafrance said. She was taken to a hospital.

The Office of the Maine State Fire Marshal was investigating both fires Friday. A gasoline can could be seen sitting on the ground in front of the mobile home behind crime-scene tape at 33 Highland Ave. in Mechanic Falls.

Authorities locked down the Poland Regional High School and Minot Consolidated School shortly after the reported fires because Callahan's two children attend those schools, Lafrance said.

Callahan was charged with violation of bail conditions and eluding an officer. More charges are expected.

He was charged with a number of criminal violations in December after initiating an armed standoff with police at his home, which is off Route 119.

Minot fire Chief Dean Campbell said Friday firefighters responded to a fully involved structure fire. When they arrived, the garage was ablaze. The fire had entered the house from the two-car garage, which was attached. He said he believed the fire started there.

Crews set up a portable pool at the end of the long driveway and pumped water from it through hoses to an engine parked next to the structure.

"Water supply is always an issue in a small town," Campbell said.

According to witnesses at the scene, the house was destroyed. Poland fire Chief Mark Bosse said when firefighters arrived, the roof of the building was already fully engulfed in flames.

According to municipal tax records, the assessed value of the two-story house is $159,000.

According to dispatchers, Callahan was seen leaving the house Friday and was believed to be armed.

A neighbor reported seeing the house on fire after Callahan left.

Between Dec. 21 and Dec. 22 from inside his home, Callahan held police at gunpoint for more than six hours and was later charged with six counts of reckless conduct with a firearm,  two counts of domestic violence criminal threatening and one count of aggravated criminal mischief. Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

He has pleaded not guilty to those felony charges in Androscoggin County Superior Court and was released on $10,000 cash bail. He was ordered not to have contact with his wife, his daughter or his son as part of his bail conditions.

According to Callahan's attorney, James Howaniec, Callahan may be pursuing an affirmative defense of not guilty by reason of insanity on the standoff charges.

The standoff started on Dec. 21 when police were called to the Callahan home at about 10:30 p.m. A family member had fled the house when Callahan began shooting inside, police said. An overnight standoff ended peacefully with Callahan surrendering to police about six and a half hours later, after a tactical team member returned fire.

Callahan fired about a dozen rounds, police said, and an assault weapon was among the guns seized.

No one was injured during the standoff.

Last month, Maine's attorney general ruled that Maine State Trooper Paul Casey was justified in firing at Callahan during the standoff.

According to the AG's investigation, Callahan’s wife, Laurie Ann, and two children had left their home after Callahan, who was upset over the idea of the police arriving, loaded and displayed an AK-47 rifle with a scope, saying he wanted to die. Callahan followed his wife and children outside while he was still armed with the loaded rifle. They drove away.

Meanwhile, Callahan's brother and sister-in-law had gone to his house after getting a call from Callahan's son.

Callahan shot in the couple's direction when his brother tried to stop him from leaving in a truck. He went back into his house.

His brother, Matthew, went back to the house and eventually entered the building. Callahan fired shots in his brother's direction from upstairs. Matthew Callahan left.

Troopers and Androscoggin County Sheriff's deputies surrounded the home. Their locations were peppered with gunshots from inside the home. The Maine State Police Tactical Team, of which Casey is a member, was called to the home. 

A Hostage Negotiation Team tried to reach Callahan by phone and made 48 calls that went unanswered. The team used a loud speaker to try to communicate with Callahan, who only responded with more gunshots that struck trees and limbs near where police were stationed.

Casey established a line of sight by the sound of gunshots coming from the house. He saw what he believed was the silhouette of Callahan, firing from inside the house through a window in the daylight basement. Casey aimed and fired several rounds at that window.

Later, the police investigation showed that Casey had been roughly 165 feet from the house. He had fired 16 rounds in Callahan's direction. While none of those rounds struck Callahan, he walked out of the house and was taken into custody within minutes of Casey's rounds being fired.

The Attorney General's Office is charged by law to investigate any use of deadly force involving Maine law enforcement.

AG Janet Mills concluded that it was reasonable for Casey to believe that deadly force was imminently threatened against himself and other officers.

Callahan is a former selectman in Minot and Mechanic Falls and served on the Regional School Unit 16 board of directors. He left that board in 2004 after learning he could not serve on the board while his wife worked in the school district.

His trial on the standoff charges has not been scheduled.

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Comments

Catherine Pressey's picture

Sad, Do no know Mike

I knew his Grandparents, and know his Mom and dad, not real well, however my dad was great friends with his Grandfather who was a well respected man in the state of Maine. Served in Augusta his Granddad did. I wish this was not happening he is in my kids ages. He should not get out on bail, unless he can be deemed safe for the public and family. Clearly needs help, someone said drinking may be involved, not knowing why someone that has had many lucky breaks from a good family could let himself go down this path. Clearly he had people that loved him, clearly need medical help. Sad and scary my home is not far from either place, and I could have been on that road with this angry man. Someone said he has bought many guns since Dec. if true, Guess that sure proves that background checks may not work. But we all know if they want to get a gun they will find a way. my opinion cjp

David Pinkham's picture

Justice ??

Cops, women, children, EMTs and firefighters in combat situations, neighbors and schoolchildren in lockdown, and they guy is out on bail!??

The judge who set Callahan free in December is the one who needs his head examined!!

RONALD RIML's picture

The purpose of bail is to ensure

he shows up for his court appearances.

He may show up for his court dates armed to the teeth and with a five gallon gas can - but they do get his butt into court!!

(Some folks just shouldn't have guns - unless they're looking down the barrel to see if they're loaded.)

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