AUBURN – A Norway man tackled by an off-duty police officer in Wal-Mart last month was indicted Thursday on a slew of charges arising from the dramatic arrest.

Christopher Fitch, 35, was charged with robbery, trafficking in prison contraband, refusing to submit to arrest, assault, theft by unauthorized taking and trafficking in dangerous knives.

Investigators said that on Nov. 13, Fitch tried to steal a purse from an 85-year-old woman when he was confronted by other Wal-Mart customers. They said Fitch shoved a store clerk who tried to prevent him from fleeing.

Lewiston police officer Ken Strout was credited with tackling Fitch, a convicted murderer, whom he wrestled to the floor and held until other officers arrived.

Strout was shopping with his 4-year-old daughter when he heard yelling from a nearby aisle. When he rushed over there, he saw two other shoppers trying to catch the fleeing suspect.

“It was tricky with my daughter there. I had to make sure she was out of the way,” Strout said the day of the incident. “I ran over and these other two citizens were trying to get ahold of him. I grabbed onto him and we took him down.”

Strout said he identified himself as a police officer but the suspect kept struggling. Fitch had a folding knife in a back pocket when he was patted down, police said.

According to the indictment, a quantity of cocaine was found on Fitch as he was being booked at the Androscoggin County Jail. That discovery led to the charge of trafficking in prison contraband.

Fitch has an extensive criminal record that includes a conviction for the 1988 murder of farmer Lucien Frechette, 82, of Norway. Fitch was sentenced to 12 years in prison for the killing, but was only ordered to serve five. He was out by 1996.

Fitch was released from the Androscoggin County Jail a short time after his arrest last month. He will be summonsed to appear in court.


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