Lewiston man kills himself during standoff with police at St. Peter's Cemetery

LEWISTON — A 24-year-old man who held police at bay in an armed standoff all day Saturday killed himself at St. Peter's Cemetery, police said.

The man, whose identity was still being withheld Sunday night, shot himself in the head as he sat in his vehicle. The suicide happened at 5:30 p.m., said Lt. Michael McGonagle of the Lewiston Police Department.

"Obviously, this is not the result we wanted," McGonagle said. "It's a sad situation."

Police know who the man is but are not releasing his name. McGonagle said the man had a Lewiston address, but may not have grown up in Lewiston. "It's all under investigation," McGonagle said. "We're trying to reach family members."

The man's mother was at the cemetery director's office with police officers during the standoff, the lieutenant said. She knew her son was distraught, and she contacted police Saturday morning, worried that he would harm himself.

"We located him at 9:30," McGonagle said. "His mother was there the whole time." Police spent the day negotiating with the man as he sat in his vehicle and were on the phone with him when he shot himself, McGonagle said.

The man never threatened to harm anyone but himself, police said.

During the day, the entire cemetery at 217 Switzerland Road was shut down as Lewiston police and Maine State Police negotiated with the man. About 30 police officers were involved.

Earlier in the day, police said the man was suicidal, and they were trying to convince him to "put the gun down and surrender," McGonagle said. The man was distraught over personal issues. Police said they were trying to end the standoff peacefully without him hurting himself.

It was unclear, McGonagle said, why the man was in the cemetery.

At the cemetery's Switzerland Road entrance, black iron gates were locked. At least a dozen police vehicles were parked inside. Outside the gate, a United Ambulance was on standby.

The cemetery's Deer Road entrance was blocked off by a Lewiston Police Critical Response Unit vehicle with its blue lights flashing.

Neighbor Scott Giguere, who lives on Gulf Island Avenue, said his parents drove by the cemetery entrance Saturday morning and saw the police cars. They told him about it.

“I called one of the employees of the cemetery. I used to work here,” Giguere said. He was told that the standoff had gone on all day, that a man was in a car with a weapon threatening to hurt himself in Section 6 of the cemetery, which Giguere said is “down in the corner.”

Cemetery Director Gerald Raymond, who was in his office with police, said he saw one car in the graveyard.

"Police told me to lock the gates. I did," Raymond said. "We've been shut down all day. We had a service scheduled that I canceled.”

During the afternoon, Raymond and Giguere hoped the standoff would end with no one getting hurt.

“Maybe he just snapped,” Giguere said. With so many people out of work, “it's a tough time out there for people.”

bwashuk@sunjournal.com

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Roger J Stavitz's picture

Maine, a place where people care!

I wanted to apologize if I inadvertently hurt any of the feelings of the readers of the Sun Journal by my post. The Sun shows up on my MSNBC web site, and I really like their policy of asking us to reveal our real names. Sometimes, I think the Internet would be a lot more civil if that were the case across the board.

But with that comes some responsibility, and there is no way I can just take back anything aggravating I have said, but I can sincerely apologize and think more about my posts in the future.

More importantly, I read this interesting article from National Public Radio called America Is Angry, Very Angry. Why That's Not All Bad

http://www.npr.org/2012/02/13/146652679/america-is-angry-very-angry-why-...

And, of course, anger is a symptom of depression, which can cause feelings of worthlessness, low self esteem, and thoughts of suicide.

The last time I saw everyone so angry is during the last Presidential election in 2008, where once again, the housing prices had fallen through the floor, unemployment was bad, and gas prices rose through the roof, as they are doing, once again.

Not to blame any particular politician or political party, because the whole world seems to be in a giant recession, with wars or revolutions going on in several countries, but these enormous gas prices, our gas guzzling vehicles and rampant unemployment, or people without any health care, has left everyone feeling on edge.

This last week, I stormed out of a popular box store, vowing never to come back, and I doubt the managers of that particular box store even care, as they are cut back to bare bones staff, and what’s one customer, when thousands flock through their portal every day. They’re just trying to keep their job. I expected to be treated as a customer, but found I was just a piece of meat in a cattle car....LOL What a revelation....LOL

Last week, a friendly acquaintance had someone with severe road rage follow his car. He pulled off, not wanting a confrontation at the restaurant where he worked, and got out of his car.

As, “Chef,” said, so adroitly, in Apocalypse Now Redux, “NEVER GET OUT OF THE BOAT!” My sixtyish friend was attacked and mauled, a passing off duty police officer witnessed, and called the on duty police. The matter now goes to court.

When road rage happens, just wave, smile and keep on moving, is my motto.....LOL That’s what I told my friend.

And, now, we have someone who was severely sad who killed himself, despite everyone being worried about his survival.

Many years ago, the last girl I had a crush on broke it off because she felt suicidal. Two years later, after at least one more boyfriend for her, she went in to a hospital, and was released, and finally killed herself in her grandmother’s house with her Mother standing suicide watch in the next bedroom. Me and others were devastated, but what could we do?

Tomorrow, I’m going to get a haircut and a shave, and try to present a more friendly image to the world. I’ll try to be more polite to people. I’ll smile and wave at people in my community. I’ll try to be a more upbeat person, if I can. Because this is going to be one tough year for all of us.

Certainly, most of the people in Maine do not have it as tough as Haitians, but it is tough, living up here with the limited resources we have. And we all have to try to make it better, if we can, I guess.

But I will admit that, last year, due to minor crime in my community, I hooked up a small tripod on the dash of my vehicle, snapped on a miniature movie camera, and kept it running, mostly to provide evidence of some crime occurring, and to make sure my behavior was above reproach. I think it’s time to hook up that dash cam, once again, if only to get some good shots of the small animals I manage to avoid as I drive down the road.

I am not from Maine, but what I have come to like about it is the small town atmosphere, which can literally clog your soul, with everyone looking in to your business and and passing rumors. But I have seen an outpouring of caring for this one individual who had a severe emotional problem at the Lewiston cemetery, and the Bangor Daily News is filled with caring readers who have left comments. I live several hundred miles from Lewiston, but felt personally affected when I saw the story on my MSNBC front page.

With the nine million people in the Greater Delaware Valley of Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey, where I spent most of my life, this story would be lost in the shuffle. In Maine, it is news and that makes, to me, at least, Maine a good place to live.

Roger J Stavitz's picture

My own suicidal feelings

[This comment has been edited by the administrator]

I have had suicidal/homicidal feelings in the past. Suicide is HOMICIDE OF ONESELF.

I was lucky, took several overdoses, over a period of years, and woke up later, and finally found out that I did not have a deep desire to die, or else I would have bought a gun or jumped off a high bridge. I was merely depressed, and eventually sought help in other ways. Not everyone is as lucky as me[This comment has been edited by the administrator]

When I think of this man, I think of former Chief of Naval Operations, Jeremy Boorda, who shot himself over a minor dispute about whether he was authorized to wear a V for valor medal. It was such a trivial question that it took several months for a Navy commission to decide he wasn't authorized, after he was dead, despite the fact that his former commander in Vietnam, Admiral Zumwalt, said that Admiral Boorda was authorized to wear it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Michael_Boorda

Admiral Boorda was the very first Chief of Naval Operations to rise from the rank of enlisted man to head of the US Navy, and I guess he felt a lot of pressure on his job. Perhaps this man felt the same way, and just didn't want to live, despite his Mother's pleas. When people feel particularly shameful, for whatever reason, often they just don't want to live anymore, even though their perceived shame may not be of any consequence, anyway.

[This comment has been edited by the administrator] Life is a very sad affair, at it's best, and my heart goes out to all the people in this post, no matter what was said, and particularly the police officers who had to attend to this matter. Roger Stavitz in Danforth, Maine.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

Don't react!

There's no manual on how to survive your daughter's murder, so be generous.

Jennifer Chretien's picture

I agree, I will also say

I agree, I will also say there is no manual on how to survive your son's suicide. Let us all be compassionate to those who are grieving. Losses come in many ways; murder, suicide, illness, accident etc. Everyone's loss is devastating to them, you can't compare one person's loss to another's. I don't have children, I did watch my grandparents experience the deaths of two of their three children and saw how absolutely crushing it was for them. At some point in our lives we will all lose someone close to us. I believe that in the midst of our loss it is still possible to have compassion for someone else experiencing a loss.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

To Jennifer

Possible, yes. But is it so unforgiveable that a person hasn't yet found the grace to get there every time?

Jennifer Chretien's picture

I wasn't blaming anyone for

I wasn't blaming anyone for anything Kathy. Actually the point of my post was that everyone experiences loss; specifically Libby and the mother of the young man who killed himself, and that we can't really understand how much someone's loss impacts them. In NO way was I trying to criticize Libby for her response. I was just trying to say that this young man's mother was also dealing with the loss of her child. I also posted a comment to Libby expressing my condolences for her loss and how this incident impacted her.

Sad!

It is very sad. Not only that this poor young man took his life, but how some people react to it. What happened to empathy? No one else was in this poor mans shoes. We don't know what he was thinking, or how he was feeling. I am sure he felt like he was where he wouldn't hurt anyone. Just remember this could have been one of your loved ones.
God Bless Him!

 's picture

Really?? My daughter is

Really?? My daughter is burried there, and from the pics, he wasn't far from her resting place. I was wondering why I couldn't go visit her and why it was locked up, its never locked. Thanks for disturbing the peace. The river is right across the street, perfect place to go do your business, not near my precious daughter and other family members. You don't think she saw this from heaven? I can't go there without feeling weirded out now. It was a peaceful place for me, now I will always think of the selfishness when I go see my daughter. No, I have no sympathy, especially when killing yourself is done in such a sacred place.

 's picture

ps

I went back today to see her, and the air was different. I didn't stay long. Couldn't deal with more death around there even though it is a cemetery.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

Many of us have family there.

I am no expert but it seems like there is a stage in grief where everything that anyone else does, seems to be a commentary on our loved one's death. It isn't. This young man's pain does not diminish yours, nor does it diminish the impact of your daughter's life. I feel so sad for him, his family and for the officers who tried all day to stop him. I understand you're trying to keep your daughter's memory alive, but depending on strangers to behave in a way that facilitates it, will not work. We can't control it and we have to work to find another way to safely grieve.

 's picture

thanks

I agree with you Kathy, and thank you. This person chose to take his life, my daughter didn't, so that's why I'm upset.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

{{{{{{{Libby}}}}}}}}

Maybe being close to that sweet baby will somehow help his soul rest in peace. It seems you are asked to give, once again.

WOW

Are you really that cold and cruel? You speak about your daughter with compassion and grief however feel no empathy for another lost life or the pain his family is experiencing. I wondered if this was a fake post as no one can be this heartless and self absorbed as to not feel the pain of this tragic outcome. The only rational i can justify is that you your self are very emotionally ill or this is a fake post to gather the negative response.

 's picture

Maybe

maybe it sounded cruel, i really don't care, but he chose to take his own life, my daughter was murdered, she didnt have a choice. It's not fake but thanks for thinking so. I know exactly how the mom feels, but when its effecting where my loved ones are, and bars us from visiting them, dead or alive, I get pissed.

Libby

Yes i understand your stand but do you not realize when someone is suicidal they do not feel like they have any choices, i believe this young man felt as there was no other way to escape his pain, there is a huge emotional shift in actual plan and intent. I work in Mental Health and see many suicidal people who also feel there is no way out of there crisis. Your statement may also cause his mom from feeling safe to visit him at the same cemetery. During difficult times reach out to supportive others and be mindful to not lash out at others who had nothing to do with your loss however are now feeling that same pain as you are. I am very sorry for your loss and may have been harsh but felt the need to protect this mom living her worst nightmare. May you find comfort in your memories and empathy in your heart to reach out to others in need.

 's picture

brenda

you are so right, i do apologize but i am so sick of murder and death around us. Maybe its just me. I have friends whos children committed suicide and in a support group for grieving parents- and a lot have expressed anger as to why their child did that, and what is has done for the family. I know my child is dead and really didn't see anything, but this really disturbed me, and it came out the wrong way. Sorry for all those I have offended.

Mike Lachance's picture

I havegrandparents, great

I havegrandparents, great grandparents, great uncles, great aunts, second cousins and other relatives buried in that cemetary. I am not angry at where this man cjose to take his own life. To be so protective of a public cemetary but so ambivalent and unconcerned about others taking their lives "somewhere else" is simply wrong.

The cemetary is FILLED with burials of thousands of individuals over the last 150 years. Im sure some of them did actually kill themselves. Perhaps in rather disturbing ways. Our loved ones went to their resting places in the cemetary long after many suicides where buried there, and im sure others will in the future.

The loss of an innocent life, be it by drunk driver, suicide, accident or cold blooded murder is a loss to a family almost every time. This man went out in a terrible fashion. Where he will spend eternity none of us know. But we do know that there are many buried in that cemetary who it could be said, were evil individuals. What about their story? Who are they? who knows. But they are most certainly buried their along with the truly blessed and sanctified.

All of this doesn't change anything for me in any way. Especially in a cemetary with so many "lives" interred. Every one of those lives has a legacy; some grand, small insignificant, some tragic, some uneventful... but all of them are no less significant than any other, be they young, or old.

May God bless this man and have mercy on his soul. May God also bring comfort to his family and loved one in this time of loss. May He be the light for their path and bring peace to their hearts and minds.
I pray this is the name of Jesus Christ.
Amen.

Jennifer Chretien's picture

Libby, I am very sorry for

Libby, I am very sorry for your loss. As I said in another comment I don't have children but I watched my grandparents suffer the loss of two of their three children. I saw how crushing that was for them, and cannot pretend to know what that feels like. I think I can understand your anger, the place were your daughter is buried is a sacred place and for this to happen there makes things that much harder. Speaking as someone who has struggled with depression severe enough to not want to live I don't in any way believe the young man chose that place to make your loss any more difficult. I will keep you and this man's family in my thoughts, may you all find some peace as you deal with your losses.

Randall Pond's picture

Seeing your daughter

Libby St. Pierre;

I feel sorry you could not get in to see your daughter. However, I totally disagree with your comment and find it un-needed or warranted in this situation. A Young Man took his life as he felt he couldn't get help or go on.

How do you think his Mother feels reading your comment? Have you No Compassion as the church teaches?

What if that WAS YOUR SON? Hm?

 's picture

what if it was my son??? It

what if it was my son??? It was my daughter that I lost to murder. Gee, wonder why I'm so jaded.

KATHY WILLIAMSON's picture

You're only human

You just keep on keeping on. Only the all-knowing Spirit knows why you have been asked to sacrifice like this. If your reactions are a little harsh, well, let them cut you some slack. You're not the saint; she is. It's not the perfect response. The one who is perfect was taken up to heaven. I don't need you to be perfect.

RONALD RIML's picture

"At the cemetery's

"At the cemetery's Switzerland Road entrance, black iron gates were locked. At least a dozen police vehicles were parked inside. Outside the gate, a United Ambulance was on standby.

Who yelled 'Free Doughnuts??!!

"Obviously, this is not the result we wanted," McGonagle said. "It's a sad situation."

Maybe he didn't want to let down his audience?

During the day, the entire cemetery at 217 Switzerland Road was shut down as Lewiston police and Maine State Police negotiated with the man. About 30 police officers were involved.

Things slow in L/A, Guys???

Randall Pond's picture

Your comment

How can you Be So CRUEL!

it was WRONG to bring 30 Officers to this EVENT! YES But, to sit there and poke fun at them, SERIOUSLY DUDE?! WHAT'S YOUR MALFUNCTION!

I Very Sorry you Feel this way guy. Have you Ever Personally dealt with someone in YOUR OWN Family with Mental Illness?

When a person with Mental Illness tries to take their life or talks of hurting themselves why do the Police Bring Guns to the Situation?!

Where's the Compassion The Understanding? The way Maine Handles it's Mentally Ill BLOWS MY MIND!

RONALD RIML's picture

Rather than the Cemetary

-- Rather than the Cemetery; he could have decided to do it out at Randall Pond. How would you have felt then??

When you've been involved in a few of these things, one tends to rely upon Gallows Humor as a defense mechanism.

JOANNE MOORE's picture

Lame

Feeble and uncalled for, Ronald.

RONALD RIML's picture

You don't have a clue....

30 Police Officers were uncalled for.... No wonder he blew himself away.

I've been to these things and talked suicidal people out of it. Have you???

 's picture

You are a class act

At least they tried to save the fellow's life. I thank them for their efforts.

RONALD RIML's picture

There are trained professionals

There are trained professionals for that sort of thing. Most have MD, PhD, or MSW after their name - and some Public Safety Departments coordinate with these individuals and their agencies with prior planning before events such as this.

The LSJ didn't report if this planning, coordination and assistance was deployed in this case.

RONALD RIML's picture

And not to be left out...

RN and LPN's too, God Bless 'em.....

 's picture

Brilliant, Dan

Before tapping away at your keyboard, did you think, for a moment, about the circumstances that the deceased were in when they encountered the police? Many are at the end of their rope, usually carrying a weapon, and are a threat to themselves, the public, and the police encountering them. It's not TV or the movies.

RONALD RIML's picture

So who ya gonna call?

So who ya gonna call? Ghost-Busters....?

Someone's depressed - has a gun, and wants to kill themselves. So you call a paramilitary organization that has more guns and usually locks people up. Yep - sounds about right!!

Jennifer Chretien's picture

I make these comments from

I make these comments from the perspective of having been depressed enough to want to kill myself. It's easy to say this never should have ended this way. First of all none of where there and therefore don't know how what techniques the police used to try and talk this young man out of killing himself. We have no idea who else the police called in to help talk to this man. Secondly if someone is determined to kill themselves there is little if anything anyone can do to stop them. It is sad but I believe that it is true. It's easy to sit back; read an article which with all due respect to the Sun Journal doesn't have all the details, and judge how the police handled a situation. I personally won't do that, I know the darkness this young man was feeling and I am sorry for the outcome, and give my condolences to his family.

RONALD RIML's picture

Not in all cases....

Jennifer writes: "Secondly if someone is determined to kill themselves there is little if anything anyone can do to stop them." - Not in all cases, Jennifer.

Jennifer Chretien's picture

I don't mean in all cases, I

I don't mean in all cases, I do believe that it is true in most cases. Also I guess what I mean is in the long term. If someone is suicidal maybe you can prevent it today, but if they really truly want to die unless you never leave them alone they are likely to find a way at some point. I was recently hospitalized for depression ans feeling suicidal; I was discharged after a week and feeling much better. I'd be lying to say those thoughts never leave my mind 100%. If I get to the point where the pain is unbearable and I can't see any end to it and I've lost the strength to keep fighting I'll find a way. Today I have the strength to keep fighting, most of the time that strength comes from not wanting to hurt my family and friends. I do fear someday that won't be enough and if that happens I will find a way, regardless.

Randall Pond's picture

Armed man in standoff with police at St. Peter's Cemetery.

I am so Very Sorry to hear this ended this way! Oh How VERY SAD!

Prayers for his Mother and his family and friends. I've said this Many times.

Suicide is a Permanent Solution to a Temporary Problem!

Randall Pond's picture

Armed man in standoff with police at St. Peter's Cemetery in Lew

I hope this ends peacefully and man surrenders and gets the help he needs. Help is there for this. St. Mary's good for that as well, Riverview in Augusta, and Spring Harbor in S.Portland.

 's picture

It's over

It did not end well. There's a report on WMTW. Not sure why the SunJournal has not updated this.

 's picture

And

there's the update.

 's picture

i have read 2 reports of this

i have read 2 reports of this incedent. was it in st mary's cemetary or st patricks?

 's picture

or st peter's?

or st peter's?

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