Man arrested after Augusta Walmart confrontation was convicted of domestic violence assault in Auburn


Robert Potter

AUGUSTA — The criminal complaint filed Thursday against an Augusta man arrested after a violent altercation at the Augusta Walmart charges Robert Potter with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

The complaint specifies that Potter, 31, was convicted in January 2016 in Auburn Superior Court of committing domestic violence assault, which barred him from owning a firearm.

Kennebec County District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said Thursday that Potter remains in Riverview Psychiatric Center for evaluation.

Potter was taken into custody by Augusta police Monday night following a violent altercation in Walmart during which a gun was fired. On Tuesday, in a news release Augusta Deputy Chief Jared Mills said Potter was initially taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center and was hospitalized at an undisclosed location.

At the same time, a woman, who remains unidentified, apparently saw the confrontation and ran to her car in the parking lot. She suffered a medical event and despite efforts to help her, she died on the scene.

That death is being treated as a separate incident.

The incident began when an Augusta man told Potter his boot lace was untied.

Kevin Roberge said in an interview with the Kennebec Journal that he had noticed a man’s boot lace was untied and let him know. That’s when the man started following him from the checkout area across to the Dunkin’ Donuts, where Roberge had planned to wait for a cab to take him home. He said the man, whose name he didn’t know at the time, grabbed his arm and shouted for Roberge to get on the ground.

Instead, Roberge said he grabbed the barrel of the gun to keep it from being pointed at him, and he struggled with Potter until police arrived. During the struggle, a shot was fired.

Roberge said Potter appeared to be out of it and when he was in police custody, he shouted out his name and rank.

On Thursday, the U.S. Army confirmed that Potter had served from May 2008 to November 2012, with two deployments in Iraq. During his service, Potter earned awards including the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, and the Iraq Campaign Medal with campaign star.

While Potter was specifically banned from carrying a firearm due to his conviction on a domestic violence assault charge, he did not run afoul of Walmart policies by carrying it in the store.

Walmart spokesman Charles Crowson said the company’s stores comply with all federal, state and local laws regarding concealed carry of weapons, and there is no prohibition at the Augusta Walmart store against carrying them.

The Augusta Walmart was closed for a time Monday night when police responded to a report that a gun had been fired inside the store. Staff file photo by Jessica Lowell