AUBURN — A 21-year-old Auburn man was arrested on a murder charge Wednesday, accused of shooting another man in the back Saturday at the Walmart parking lot.

Police arrested Gage Dalphonse at about 3:30 p.m. in the death of Jean Fournier, 41, of Turner. Investigators said an autopsy confirmed Fournier had died of gunshot wounds.

Dalphonse was taken to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn where he was held without bail. He is expected to make an initial court appearance Friday morning.

Police confirmed Wednesday what many of Fournier’s friends had been asserting for days: The shooting was not a random attack. Fournier and Dalphonse, friends said, had clashed in the past and when they saw each other in the parking lot, tempers flared.

Witnesses reported the two men argued in the parking lot and when Fournier turned to walk away, he was shot at least twice in the back.

In an interview Wednesday, Fournier’s girlfriend Tara Nguyen said she and Dalphonse used to work together and that he had threatened her in past. She said the Walmart parking lot meeting was a chance encounter that escalated when Dalphonse called her a name and Fournier came to her defense.

Fournier was not armed when he was shot, police said. He died a short time later at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

During a candlelight vigil for Fournier on Sunday evening at the Walmart parking lot, friends said he had been troubled in earlier years, but “turned his life around” and was “focused on his family.”

Auburn Police Chief Jason Moen speaks Wednesday afternoon during a news conference following the arrest of Gage Dalphonse, 21, of Auburn. Dalphonse was arrested in the fatal shooting Saturday of Jean Fournier, 41, of Turner at the Walmart parking lot in Auburn. At left, Lucas Hare of the Maine State Police. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Fournier was convicted of several felonies between 1996 and 2000, including robbery, drug trafficking and burglary, but had not been convicted of a crime since 2005.

Dalphonse’s criminal history was limited to charges of assault and reckless conduct, both filed in the summer of 2018. The assault charge was dismissed after Dalphonse pleaded guilty to the reckless conduct charge. He was found guilty of that charge in February and ordered to pay a $300 fine.

Neither charge was a felony that would have prohibited Dalphonse from carrying a firearm.

Dalphonse was a varsity athlete at Edward Little High School in Auburn. In his senior year, he was a member of a relay team that won an event at the University of Southern Maine.

As police announced the arrest Wednesday afternoon, two of Fournier’s friends sat at the back of the room in the council chambers at City Hall. The listened quietly as Auburn Police Chief Jason Moen announced Dalphonse had been arrested.

When the news conference was over, the two young men spoke with Auburn police detectives, shook their hands and left the building. They declined to comment on the arrest.

For days, some members of the public had been clamoring for an arrest, and criticizing Auburn police and Maine State Police for failing to take Dalphonse into custody.

Police stressed they were being thorough in their investigation and waiting for results of an autopsy. Police also contended with rumors that proved wrong, including reports that the suspect in the case was 16 years old.

“There has been a lot of speculation in the community and on social media as to the circumstances surrounding the incident,” Moen said.

Portland Press Herald writer Matt Byrne contributed to this report.


Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: