LEWISTON – Brent Matthews, the Lewiston man who became embroiled in controversy last year after he rolled a pig’s head into a city mosque, committed suicide in the Marden’s parking lot Saturday morning, minutes after calling police.
Matthews, 34, phoned 911 in distress at 8:14 a.m., according to police. When officers arrived, Matthews was outside his car and alone. They tried speaking with him, but Matthews never responded. After just a few minutes, he raised a handgun to his head and fired once.
“One of our corporals knew him, and he tried to talk him out of it,” Sgt. Michael Whalen said. “It didn’t work.” Whalen did not elaborate.
Matthews was taken to Central Maine Medical Center by an ambulance that had already been en route to the parking lot. He was pronounced dead several hours later.
Marden’s, the largest store in that Main Street plaza, doesn’t open until 9 a.m., but several employees were already there and witnessed the incident, General Manager Paul LePage said.
“We got some counselors in there talking to them,” he said.
Matthews had no ties to the store that LePage was aware of. Police said it was not clear why he chose that destination. It was also not known what prompted Matthews to kill himself.
Whatever the reason, “He took it with him,” Whalen said.
Deputy Chief Michael Bussiere said he wasn’t aware of any recent involvement Matthews may have had with police, and wasn’t aware of any note left behind in the vehicle.
Matthews was in the news last year after he rolled a pig’s head into a mosque on Lisbon Street on July 3. He told investigators the head had slipped from his hands and rolled through the doorway.
Pigs and pork are considered vile and unclean in the Muslim religion.
He was charged with the misdemeanor of defacement and desecration of a place of worship. Authorities had considered filing federal hate-crime charges against Matthews, but ultimately chose not to.
He lived in Lewiston with a girlfriend. Police declined to release that address.
A police chaplain spoke to officers who had witnessed the shooting, which remained under investigation late Saturday.