Jessica Hamilton, left, and Kandice Charest, both neighbors of Dan Bussiere, talk about how he was mistreated by others in the neighborhood who would pick on him because he was “different,” as they stand on the street in front of 163 Holland St. Thursday morning. 

“They would pick on him because he was a little retarded and spent all day cleaning the yard,” Charest said. “If they just left him alone this would not have happened.”

LEWISTON – A standoff that began before dawn Wednesday ended early Thursday after the suspect was found dead inside the building he had holed up in.

Police
have not officially identified the suspect, but Lewiston Police and
State Police spokesmen said Daniel Bussiere, 49,  shot himself some time late Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.

“The (tactical) team entered a little before 1 a.m. and found him dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Maine Department of Public Safety Spokesman Stephen McCausland said.

Prior to the entry, the State Police Tactical Team fired several tear gas canisters into the building, McCausland said.

He said it was still unknown whether any guns were fired by police. Initial reports show the suspect did not fire any rounds at police.

Lt. Mark Cornelio, spokesman for the Lewiston Police Department, confirmed that the suspect, identified by neighbors as Dan Bussiere, had been found dead with an apparent self-inflicted wound to the head by State Police after they entered the building at 161 Holland St. shortly after 1 a.m. Thursday.

Later Thursday morning, several windows in the building were broken from what appeared to be tear gas canisters. The door to the suspect’s first-floor apartment was covered with plywood.

What sounded like 20 shots were heard at about 6:50 p.m. Wednesday, though police did not confirm whether the volley was gun fire or tear gas at the time.

The shots prompted neighbors, who had been evacuated from their homes hours earlier, to hustle their children to cover.

A police tactical team continued to watch the downtown building, where the man had fled at around 5 a.m. Wednesday.

An hour later, a State Police negotiator pleaded with the suspect to surrender. “We’re here to help you,” the negotiator said. “You can help us by coming out the front door with your hands up.”

According to witnesses at the scene, Bussiere was believed to be in his mid-40s.

Police were first seen entering the building around 9:15 a.m. Wednesday when they evacuated nieghbors, but did not attempt to apprehend Bussiere.

A police negotiator had been able to talk with the suspect via phone for about a half-hour before the two were disconnected. Just after 11 a.m. Wednesday a negotiater could be heard pleading with Bussiere to call back so they could continue talking.

Around 100 people, mostly neighbors, were near the scene, watching as dark fell Wednesday night.

By the time the standoff entered its 18th hour, some people in the neighborhood were arguing with each other and fights broke out. One man, frustrated that his family was unable to return to their home, attempted to storm the building where the man was holed up. Other neighbors stopped him and calmed him down.

Through it all, negotiations at the scene of the standoff continued.

“We know that you may be scared,” the negotiator told the suspect around 8 p.m. “Nobody out here wants to hurt you. If you come out, we can hear your side of the story and get you the help you need. You have the power.”

Police had been trying to talk to Bussiere with a loudspeaker and were calling him by the name “Dan.” A State Police tactical vehicle was parked at the front of the building as police negotiated with the suspect. It appeared the police had the first-floor apartment unit, where Bussiere lived, surrounded.

Negotiators were urging Bussiere to pick up a cell phone and talk. “We know it’s been a long night,” a police negotiator was heard saying.

According to Lewiston police, a search warrant was issued in the afternoon for weapons that Bussiere may have in his apartment, including a 30-30 Savage rifle.

Sidney Lord, who lives in a building near the scene of the standoff, said the trouble started at about 5 a.m. when Bussiere threatened and assaulted his son with a handgun near 7-Eleven, a short distance away. He said that incident followed weeks of confrontation between Bussiere and other neighbors.

“This man pulled a gun on my son and slammed it into his head as hard as he could,” Lord said. “We’ve had problems with him for three or four months.”

Lord’s son Justin, 21, was dazed but not seriously hurt. Justin said he believed the weapon with which he was struck was a black and silver .357 magnum revolver. He said he could see hollow-point bullets in the revolver portion of the handgun as it was pointed at him.

After the alleged assault, Bussiere retreated into his apartment. A short time later, police were on the scene and the standoff began.

Sidney Lord said Bussiere had punched his wife in recent days, escalating the tension around the Oak Street neighborhood. Police were called to Bussiere’s building on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, McCausland said “We have opened up a line of communication with the man, and state police negotiators have been talking to him throughout the morning over the phone. Our goal is to conclude this in a safe and peaceful manner.”

As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, a two-block area from College Street to Main Street had been cordoned off by police. Police also evacuated some people from their homes on a section of Oak Street from Elm Street to Prescott Street.

For an entire day, neighbors who had been hustled out of their homes stood at Elm and Towle streets, trying to figure out how things had gotten so ugly so quickly.

According to Deborah Brown, Justin Lord’s mother, she had a confrontation with Bussiere several days ago after he called her a profane name. She slapped his face, she said, and he then punched her in the head. Brown said she reported the incident to police, who did go to Bussiere’s apartment to speak with him.

According to neighbors, Bussiere has a history of confrontations with them and police were at Bussiere’s apartment several times Tuesday after various neighbors complained about him acting out.

Tracy Robbins of Livermore, who visits the Holland Street neighborhood frequently to see friends, said she believes Bussiere may have some mental health issues, but doesn’t believe he’s a bad person. Bussiere spends time keeping the sidewalk in front of his apartment clean, and gets agitated when people don’t respect that effort, Robbins said, which results in frequent confrontations with neighbors.

Robbins said she thinks Bussiere was provoked Wednesday. “It’s not right,” she said. “Because people with mental illness get a bad name and usually it’s not their fault.”

William Hodges, the father of two small children, said he walked to the police department Monday to file a report about Bussiere’s behavior. Hodges was woken up this morning by police who told him he would be evacuated, and that he should gather what he needed to do that. Hodges said neighborhood issues with Bussiere were ongoing. “I don’t let my kids out front because of it,” he said.

Another neighbor, Ryan Green, was standing at a police barricade in his bare feet after being evacuated. He said he didn’t have time to grab any belongings, including shoes.

Earlier in the day Chris Spencer, a passerby, noticed all the small children gathered and around lunch time he donated some Italian sandwiches he had purchased.

Police closed Holland Street near the Rainbow Federal Credit Union, which is on Main Street. Holland Street was closed on that side of Main Street, which is also near the Trinity Catholic School, a private Catholic school. Students remained in the building.

By late Wednesday night, the American Red Cross was working to find the displaced neighbors – including several school-age and younger children – a place to spend the night. They were discussing the possibility of housing the nearly two dozen people at an area school or at the Lewiston Armory.

The neighbors that were evacuated were pooling their resources to purchase fast food for their children as they sat waiting on the side of a building at Towle and Elm streets. Earlier in the day Chris Spencer, a passerby, noticed all the small children gathered and around lunch time he donated some Italian sandwiches he had purchased.

“Some of them have been out here since 6 a.m.” Spencer said. “I did it just for the kids but it looks like it went all the way around and the dog even go some. I just hope they can get back into their homes soon.”

More details, photographs and video from this incident will be posted here as soon as they become available.

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One of several windows that are broken out at 163 Holland Street where Dan Bussiere held police at bay all day Wednesday.

The Maine State Police Tactical Squad prepares to enter 163 Holland St.


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