Gage Dalphonse is led into Androscoggin County Superior Court by deputies in Auburn on Friday morning. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

AUBURN — A judge ordered a 21-year-old local man to be held without bail at his initial court appearance Friday on a murder charge in the fatal shooting of another man last weekend in the Walmart parking lot.

Police said Gage Dalphonse of 47 Crest Ave. shot Jean Fournier, 41, of Turner. Witnesses said Fournier was shot twice in the back after the two argued.

A judge ordered Dalphonse held without bail pending a probable cause and bail hearing, which was not yet scheduled.

There was heavy security in the packed Androscoggin County Superior Courtroom where some onlookers had to stand.

Gage Dalphonse appears in Androscoggin County Superior Court for his initial appearance in Auburn on Friday morning. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

During the brief hearing, Justice William Stokes asked Dalphonse questions about the murder charge to ensure he understood the judicial proceeding.

As Dalphonse was led away in handcuffs, his ankles shackled, a woman called out: “I love you!” He responded: “I love you, too.”

Another woman erupted into sobs.

He was arrested Wednesday afternoon and has been held at the Androscoggin County Jail. He had been released after questioning last weekend.

Police said Dalphonse shot Fournier on Saturday at the Walmart on Mt. Auburn Avenue after they saw each other in the parking lot. Fournier was taken to a Lewiston hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

On Wednesday, police said a medical examiner determined that Fournier died from gunshot wounds by homicide.

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. One witness reported that chance encounter escalated when Dalphonse insulted a woman who was with Fournier’s group at the store, and Fournier came to her defense, asking Dalphonse to apologize.

That witness, who said she was Fournier’s girlfriend, told a reporter that she and Dalphonse had worked together and that he had threatened her in the past.

Police said Fournier was unarmed when he was shot.

According to a police affidavit, which had been impounded until after Friday’s appearance, Dalphonse told police he drove into the Walmart parking lot with a friend, Dafghan Zitsch, to look for Zitsch’s car, which was parked in the lot.

Dalphonse said he was driving through one of the travel lanes when he “observed as many as 20 people crowding the lane,” including Tara Nguyen, with whom he had worked at Clover Manor Health Care in Auburn, and that “she didn’t like him.”

According to the affidavit, “Tara told him he was a little bitch,” and Dalphonse told police he “wasn’t going to do this and continued to drive down the lane.”

Dalphonse could hear people “continue to talk sh** about him,” according to police. Dalphonse said he was angry and “would ordinarily have done something about it, but said he had a gun in his possession and didn’t think anyone was following him.”

Defense attorney Leonard Sharon addresses the court during Gage Dalphonse’s initial appearance in Androscoggin County Superior Court in Auburn on Friday morning. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Dalphonse told police, “a black man then walked beside his car and told Gage he needed to stop and go back and talk to (Fournier). Gage said he told the man to have a good day and continued down the travel lane,” looking for his friend’s car.

Several rows down the lane, as he was parking his car, he saw Nguyen parking face-in. Dalphonse and his friend stayed inside the car, according to the affidavit, when Fournier approached.

Gage’s window was down, and Dalphonse said the black man who spoke to him earlier was also standing there.

According to police, Fournier asked Dalphonse what his problem was, and Dalphonse replied there was no problem. Dalphonse told police Fournier told him to “get the f*** out of the car and apologize” to the woman he had insulted. Dalphonse told Fournier he had some history with Nguyen, and while he apologized to Fournier, he was not going to apologize to Nguyen.

Dalphonse told police he apologized to Fournier three times, telling him he didn’t want any problems, according to the affidavit, and Dalphonse said Fournier said, “I’m going to f***ing kill you.”

Dalphonse pulled the handbrake to leave the parking space, he said, when Fournier punched Dalphonse on the left side of his lip, he told police. Dalphonse was parked face-in and wanted to leave, but his eye had swollen and he couldn’t see. Dalphonse told police his “head went heavy to his right side and felt like a spring let go inside his head.”

According to the affidavit, Dalphonse told police Fournier started to reach into the car so Dalphonse reached for his handgun, which he carried in a holster at the front of his pants.

“Gage said he grabbed his gun with his right hand and shot two rounds out the driver’s window toward” Fournier, according to court records.

During the interview in the Walmart parking lot, Dalphonse also told police he did not look where he was shooting and didn’t see Fournier when he fired two rounds. “Gage said he couldn’t even move his head. Gage said it was over in a split second,” according to the affidavit.

Dalphonse told police he fired a Glock 19 Gen 4, and thought — after he fired — that he’d shot Fournier in the face. According to the affidavit, Dalphonse said, “People were screaming and when he looked he saw the large man lying in blood near the rear” of his car, and “took his shirt off and helped pack his wounds.”

An emotional Amanda Belanger stops to think about her friend, Jean Fournier, outside the Androscoggin County Superior Courthouse in Auburn on Friday. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

According to court records, the Medical Examiner’s Office determined Fournier died of two gunshot wounds, both entering his back. One ruptured his heart and the other lodged in his spine.

Dalphonse told police he had been target shooting at Top Gun of Maine in Poland with his friend, Zitsch, earlier in the day. He had used ball ammunition to target shoot, but reloaded the gun at a convenience store with hollow-point ammunition. He had 15 rounds in the magazine and one in the chamber, he told police.

In addition to the Dalphonse interview at Walmart on Saturday, police interviewed other witnesses, including Keelin White of Portland, a friend of Fournier’s.

White told police he was in the lot when he heard yelling, and saw Fournier walking toward Dalphonse’s car, cutting across a row of cars to get there. White heard someone say, “Go get him,” so White started walking toward Fournier and the car, which had parked.

White asked Fournier what he was doing, and Fournier said he intended to talk to the driver. White heard Fournier ask Dalphonse , “Yo, why did you call my girl a whore?”

White described Dalphonse as a “skinny kid,” who replied “My bad, I apologize.”

White also heard Fournier tell the driver to apologize to Nguyen, and then Fournier told White to “run, he’s got a gun,” according to the affidavit.

White ran away immediately, and told police he never saw Fournier punch or touch anyone inside the car prior to the shooting.

According to the affidavit, Nguyen told police she hadn’t asked Fournier to get an apology and yelled at White to “go get” Fournier as he was approaching Dalphonse’s car.

She told police she watched Fournier while he stood at Dalphonse’s window, and “could see him calmly talking to Gage, and then she heard Jean yell to Keelin ‘Gun, run.'”

Nguyen told police she could see Fournier bleeding and wanted to go to him, but “Gage was standing over Jean with the gun in his hand and Tara was unsure what he would do, if he was going to shoot Jean again or possibly shoot her.”

She also saw Dalphonse take off his shirt to try to put pressure on Fournier’s wounds before walking away. She approached and used her sundress to apply pressure to the wounds.

Another witness, interviewed by police Monday, told police he was waiting in his car while his wife shopped and saw two men walk toward Dalphonse’s car.

Joseph Moschetto of Auburn said a “large white man stood near the driver’s door and a black man with a white shirt (was) standing behind the large white man.”

The driver, Dalphonse, stayed inside the car, Moschetto told police, with the driver’s window open. Moschetto could see but could not hear Dalphonse and Fournier talking, and told police, Dalphonse looked angry “by his facial expressions and gestures.”

Fournier, he said, “appeared to be talking normal back to the driver.”

Fournier turned away from Dalphonse and started to walk toward the rear of the car, and then turned and “took one or two steps back in the direction he came from, close to the side of the car,” Moschetto told police. He then saw Dalphonse extend his body out of the car, holding something black that looked like a handgun.

Moschetto “then saw a flash of white and what sounded like a cap-gun going off twice,” according to the affidavit. He ducked under the dash and stayed there until he heard sirens because he was afraid Dalphonse “might see him and realize he was a witness to the shooting.”

On Tuesday, police interviewed Dalphonse’s friend, Dafghan Zitsch, who said the two men met at Walmart and planned to go target shooting and have dinner later that night. They left Zitsch’s car in the lot and when they returned to pick it up, they saw Nguyen. Zitsch said she yelled at Dalphonse, “Ohh, we’re in public, I don’t see you talking sh** now.”

Dafghan said Dalphonse said, “Shut your f***ing whore mouth,” and continued driving.

Fournier walked toward the car and tried to get Dalphonse to stop, but Dalphonse said, “Have a nice day,” and kept driving.

When they parked, Fournier approached the car and stood at the window.

Zitsch said Fournier asked Dalphonse why he insulted Nguyen, and Dalphonse said the two had a “beef” and he wasn’t going to apologize to her. The conversation repeated and then Fournier slapped Dalphonse in the face, hitting him on his lip and causing it to bleed, Zitsch told police.

Zitsch said he thought Dalphonse was momentarily dazed because he leaned to his right side, and then got the gun and leaned out of the window and shot at Fournier.

Zitsch told police Dalphonse got out of the car, applied pressure and yelled at Zitsch to call 911.

When an off-duty officer asked the crowd who the shooter was, Dalphonse admitted it was he and sat on the curb waiting for Auburn police to arrive.

Dalphonse’s prior criminal history includes charges of misdemeanor 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.

Dalphonse has hired defense attorney Leonard Sharon to represent him.

Sharon said after the court hearing that he plans to review a reported surveillance video from Walmart and have his investigator interview witnesses from the scene. He expects to pay particular attention to the time period starting when the two men interacted at the window of Dalphonse’s car and when his gun fired, Sharon said.

“That’s all going to be very important to us,” he said.

He also said he wanted to learn more about the relationship between Dalphonse and Fournier’s girlfriend, who reportedly knew each other from having worked together at one time.

“It’s just a tragedy what happened up there,” Sharon said. “The family feels really bad.”

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