LOVELL — Neighbors sought refuge in their basement as shots were fired in a sleepy neighborhood on a dead-end dirt road.

Fred Harrison said he awoke early Wednesday morning to hear his dogs barking. His wife got up, and then he did. They heard shouting through the trees, then several pistol shots, more yelling and the sounds of a vehicle peeling out and a crash, like something striking a tree.

When daylight came, he saw police had placed evidence markers around a telephone pole where debris consistent with a vehicle crash was strewn.  

Dennis Buffington, 31, of Nuthatch Road, had been shot by Oxford County Sheriff’s Cpl. George Cayer during an armed confrontation with deputies and Maine State Police. 

Many of the details around the shooting remain unclear. Authorities arrived at the residence shortly after 1 a.m. following a 911 call reporting a man with a gun was creating a disturbance in 52 Nuthatch Road. At some point, shots were fired. By 3:30 a.m., the situation was over. 

Police declined to comment on the incident in light of a pending investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, which is standard practice in uses of deadly force by police.  

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Hours after the incident, Nuthatch Road was roped off and crawling with sheriff’s deputies, Maine State Police troopers and investigators from the AG’s office.

By Thursday morning, it had reverted to a quiet dead-end near some of the state’s most-visited lakes and mountains, qualities that drew Harrison, 61, to the region four years ago from Newark, N.J. 

Harrison, tending a small garden in raised beds, said he was shocked by the events of the previous 24 hours. 

He purchased his home, which sits just 100 or so feet from the scene, about four years ago. Although they were never close, he knew Buffington. 

“He plowed snow, cleaned up the road. I towed him out of a rut in the road once. We were neighborly,” Harrison said. 

Harrison said he never knew police were there Wednesday morning or, for that matter, what was going on outside. The situation sounded chaotic and fraught, he said, so they went to the basement to wait it out with their 12-year old daughter, thinking someone was after an animal — a bear had been seen recently — and worried about stray bullets. 

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“You gotta think of everything in two minutes,” Harrison said.

When he heard what sounded like a shotgun blast, he realized police had arrived. 

Harrison said he knew Buffington had weapons and figured he hunted, but he never seemed dangerous, always waving as he drove by. 

At 50 Nuthatch Road, which police said was the scene of much of the incident, a woman who identified herself as a family member said the family needs time and requested privacy. She said Buffington was in stable condition following surgery. 

A few hundred yards away at the end of the road, Norman Hodgkins, 83, said he slept through the night without hearing anything.

“This is all a shock to us,” Hodgkins said. 

Hodgkins said he didn’t really know Buffington. 

“Your guess as to all of this is as good as mine,” Hodgkins said. 

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