MACHIAS (AP) – A 73-year-old man has been charged with assault and disorderly conduct for spraying a fire extinguisher on people holding a peace vigil, police said.

Lowell Miller of East Machias said Monday he may have gone “a little too far” in spraying five members of the group Work for Peace.

No one was injured in Friday’s incident, said Machias Police Chief Harold Prescott.

Miller took offense at the group’s peace vigil on Main Street in Machias, police said.

He approached the group, asked participants what they were doing and told them they were crazy, said Betty Grant, a member of the group from Machiasport.

Miller, who co-owns a local discount retailer called Sandy’s Sales, kept returning and asking the protesters if their signs meant they did not think the United States should be in Iraq.

“When we told him we didn’t think we should be there, he said we were terrorists,” she said. “He told us if we were out here, we must be supporting Saddam Hussein.”

Miller then took out a pad of paper and demanded the protesters’ names, she said.

When Grant refused, Miller signaled to a companion who was videotaping the incident from a car across the street. The man crossed the street, and Miller directed him to take a photograph of Grant, she said.

Miller later pulled the fire extinguisher from his truck and returned to spray the group.

He said he intended to scare the protesters by spraying them, but the extinguisher was so old that he ended up soaking himself.

“You have to keep an eye on some of these people,” he said. “I’m just trying to protect myself and my country.”


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