WATERVILLE, Maine (AP) — Maine House Speaker Robert Nutting said Sunday he’s “deeply troubled” by the arrest of a state lawmaker accused of pointing a handgun at a newspaper photographer.
Rep. Frederick Ladd Wintle, R-Garland, was charged Saturday with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and carrying a concealed weapon, police said.
Nutting said Sunday that Wintle should be barred from the State House as a condition of bail.
Wintle, who was due to make his initial court appearance on Monday, remained jailed Sunday evening on $3,500 cash bail. No one returned a message left at his home.
The confrontation happened in a Dunkin’ Donuts parking lot in Waterville. Morning Sentinel newspaper photographer Michael Seamans told the newspaper he’d never seen Wintle before, and he wasn’t carrying his camera.
During the confrontation, Wintle accused Seamans of being “the drug dealer of the woman whose baby died in Waterville earlier this week,” police said. Police said neither Wintle nor Seamans are tied to the investigation of an infant’s death earlier last week at a Waterville homeless shelter.
Wintle put the gun away before his wife emerged with coffee, and Seamans said it appeared as if Wintle’s wife knew nothing about what had happened. Wintle was arrested across the street at a car dealership, police said.
Waterville Police Sgt. Alan Main described Seamans as an “innocent bystander” during the confrontation.
The newspaper said Wintle had been demonstrating increasingly erratic behavior.
Several lawmakers said they’d noticed behavioral changes and capital police officers were asked to keep an eye on Wintle. Wintle also was kicked out of a hotel where he sometimes stayed in Augusta after a confrontation.
Nutting wasted little time in seeking Sunday to ensure that Wintle stays away from the State House.
“I have asked the district attorney to make a condition of Representative Wintle’s bail be that he is barred from the Capitol campus, and we have revoked electronic badge privileges for entry to the State House as well,” Nutting said.