BIDDEFORD (AP) – A police tactical team evicted Dorothy Lafortune from her home on Wednesday, ending a five-day drama that closed an elementary school and left the neighborhood on edge.

Four weapons and approximately 1,500 rounds of ammunition were seized from the home, but Lafortune and the two men in the building with her offered no resistance, Police Chief Roger Beaupre said.

The 13-member tactical team, made up of officers from Biddeford, Saco and Old Orchard Beach, burst into the three-unit building on Graham Street at 12:40 p.m.

“They caught her pretty much by surprise,” said Beaupre, noting that Lafortune was talking on a cell phone when the officers entered her second-floor apartment.

The woman was placed in handcuffs, removed from the building and arraigned immediately in District Court, where bail conditions were set.

The judge released Lafortune on her own recognizance on condition that she stay away from the property and have no contact with its new owner. She also was barred from possessing weapons.

The weapons found in the building included an M-1 carbine with seven magazines fully loaded, a shotgun, a 9mm pistol and a .38-caliber revolver, the chief said.

One of the men in the building was escorted out in handcuffs but was released after police determined that he posed no threat.

The other man was identified as former city councilor Phil Castora, a supporter of Lafortune who lives in the downstairs apartment. Beaupre said Castora appeared to have chest pains and was transported by ambulance to Southern Maine Medical Center, where he was evaluated and released.

Lafortune’s home was sold at auction because she owed $27,000 in unpaid taxes and sewer bills.

She claimed that the foreclosure was being carried out in retaliation for her local call-in show on the city’s public-access cable TV channel. The show was taken off the air by city officials.

St. James School, across the street from the Lafortune home, had been closed since Friday, the day the eviction order took effect.

The school will reopen Thursday, according to Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, who said a letter will be sent home with students Monday explaining how the four days of missed classes will be made up.

Tension surrounding the case was fueled by threats from an Alabama militia leader who vowed to travel to Maine to defend Lafortune. Floyd Shackelford later backed away from those statements, saying he never intended to make the trip.

AP-ES-11-19-03 1659EST



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