Sun Journal photographer confronts suspected thief

LEWISTON — A man carrying a nail gun who was chased and video recorded by a Sun Journal photographer was arrested after the video was turned over to police.

Adonia Richard Labbe, 34, of 76 Knox St., Lewiston, was charged with a probation hold at 10:45 a.m. Monday, according to police. Lewiston police Lt. Michael McGonagle said Labbe was identified by investigators as the man in the video and admitted stealing a nail gun from a yard when confronted by officers.

McGonagle said there may be additional charges against Labbe. But as of Monday afternoon, he said investigators had not yet determined where the nail gun was stolen from and no one reported the equipment missing. McGonagle said investigators also determined that Labbe entered an abandoned home on Sabattus Street.

Russ Dillingham, chief photographer for the Lewiston Sun Journal, said he was working Friday night when his wife, Ann, called him about a strange man hovering outside their neighbor's home on Bardwell Street.

Dillingham said his wife went inside and came back out to see the man trying to get into the home. He said the man took off when she yelled across the yard asking what he was doing.

"She's the real hero in all of this," Dillingham said of his wife being willing to speak up to the man.

At about the same time his wife was confronting the man, Dillingham left the newspaper office and was in his car heading home. He caught up with the man near Jordan School Apartments between Wood and Nichols streets and confronted the suspect from his car with his hand-held video camera rolling.

The man was carrying a nail gun that Dillingham questioned him about. The suspect tried to tell the veteran photojournalist that he worked for a guy, but took off running when Dillingham asked if the gun came from his neighbor's home. Dillingham yelled to the man to stop, telling him he was placing him under citizen's arrest.

"Day after day I read about these guys breaking into people's homes and getting away with it," Dillingham said of why he confronted the man. "You just feel violated. It wasn't my house, but it was my neighbor's."

Dillingham turned his video over to police, who used it to identify and arrest Labbe. And while McGonagle said the department appreciated the assist, he warned residents to be cautious about approaching and confronting possible criminals.

McGonagle strongly recommended that residents call the police who are trained in dealing with suspects instead of chasing them down and attempting to handle situations on their own. He cited the recent Trayvon Martin case in Florida as an example where such confrontations can have tragic outcomes.

"From the police department point of view, we want you to be a good witness," McGonagle said. "Don't intervene unless you absolutely have to. Let the police . . . handle these situations."

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Comments

Kevin Saisi's picture

Clark Kent!!

Nice job Russ. :) Too bad you weren't wearing your super-suit. :)

But seriously, you are fortunate that he didn't respond violently. This could have turned out VERY badly for you. :(

Jeff Johnson's picture

Hey Russ, I thought reporters

Hey Russ, I thought reporters weren't supposed to become part of the story? Just kidding. Good job to both of you. The world needs more neighbors like you.

Caught

Awesome job Mr. & Mrs. Dillingham...

Douglas Mac antSaior's picture

Thanks for helping with the

Thanks for helping with the trash, Russ! We need more people like that.

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