Two people taken hostage by a knife-wielding former Lewiston man at the Maine State Prison in Warren were freed Monday night.

Associate Corrections Commissioner Denise Lord identified the inmate as Michael Chasse, who is either 33 or 34. The hostages, who haven’t been named, were described by Lord as an inmate and a staff member.

No one was hurt, according to Lord.

Corrections Department personnel and Maine State Police responded after the incident began around 2:30 p.m.

Details of the hostage release were expected to be released Tuesday.

Chasse was serving a 12-year prison term after being convicted on charges of robbery, burglary and aggravated assault for stabbing Robert Cohen, the brother of then-Defense Secretary William Cohen, during a robbery attempt in February 1997.

As he was being tried for the 1997 charges, Chasse made a dramatic escape from the Piscataquis County Courthouse in Dover-Foxcroft and went on a crime spree in November 1998.

Chasse was unshackled when he threw powder from a pocket and ran from deputies who were escorting from jail to the courthouse. He was recaptured during a massive manhunt about five hours after the escape, which was captured by TV cameras.

Before being recaptured, Chasse broke into a home and stole a butcher knife that he used to cut a woman who confronted him outside the house. He stole her car keys, then cut two officers with the knife after they pulled up in a pickup truck that they had commandeered outside the courthouse as they pursued Chasse.

Chasse then stole the pickup, and later a canoe, binoculars and other times from camps on Sebec Lake, where he was eventually recaptured.

At the time, Lewiston police recalled that Chasse had been in and out of trouble since he was a juvenile.

During the break-in at Robert Cohen’s Bangor home, Cohen shot Chasse twice. He was arrested while being treated at a Bangor hospital. His trial was moved to Dover-Foxcroft due to pre-trial publicity.

Monday night, after the hostages held by Chasse in Warren were released, Gov. John Baldacci issued a statement saying, “I’m thankful that the crisis has ended without loss of life. The Department of Corrections and State Police should be commended for their handling of a very dangerous situation.”

Officials said the incident was confined to the inside of the prison.

According to the Corrections Department, the Maine State Prison has close, medium and special management custody levels with a population capacity of 916 and 410 staff.


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