Justin Karcher, right, with his father Jean Fournier, who was slain last month. Justin Karcher/contributed photo

AUBURN — It has been less than three weeks since 41-year-old Jean Donald Fournier was gunned down in the Walmart parking lot. His son Justin Karcher is still grieving the loss of his dad, and one thing in particular is making it difficult.

“All these people are saying that this is a gun-control problem,” Karcher said Wednesday. “It’s really not. It’s a people problem, you know? I’m one of the biggest gun advocates around. People are trying to use this to their advantage. I feel like they’re just running with this and doing what they can to politicize it.”

Justin Karcher, right, with his father Jean Fournier, who was slain last month. Justin Karcher/courtesy photo

Karcher, 19, was in the parking lot with his father July 27 when an argument led to the fatal shooting. Police have since arrested Gage Dalphonse, 21, and charged him with murder.

Investigators say Dalphonse was carrying a Glock 19 9 mm handgun, which he used to shoot Fournier twice in the back. Dalphonse was legally entitled to carry the gun in Maine, although he did not have a permit to do so, according to state records.

Still, Karcher blames Dalphonse for the death of his father. He does not blame the Glock.

“Guns don’t pull their own triggers,” Karcher said.


He knows this well, Karcher says, because he has been around firearms since he was a boy. His grandfather taught him how to shoot safely and how to hunt.

Karcher himself has a permit to carry a concealed weapon. He got that permit only after taking a daylong course that teaches handgun safety.

“They should make you take the course,” he said, “even if you don’t want to get your permit.”

Karcher said he was not carrying his weapon, however, when his father was shot before his eyes.

Shortly after his father was killed, Karcher took to Facebook to post his feelings about the killing. Already he had seen some media outlets trying to turn the killing into a political discussion about guns.

Karcher does not approve and said his father would not have, either. The gun did not kill his father, he repeated. The man wielding it did.


Karcher was nearby when the shots rang out and Jean Fournier dropped to the pavement. He remembers it vividly. Moments before the shots were fired, his father had gone over to Dalphonse’s car to settle a verbal dispute. It did not seem like the kind of interaction that would turn deadly.

“He’s a big guy,” Karcher said of his father, “but my dad was a problem solver. He was asking the guy to apologize. He was not the type to escalate something like that.”

Days after the shooting, Karcher posted his thoughts about the political nature of gun control on the Gun Owners of Maine Facebook page. Karcher is a member of the group. The post generated nearly 500 comments from people who mostly offered him support and advised him to mourn his father without getting caught up in political controversies.

“They told me not to worry about that right now,” he said.

Karcher, and many others who knew Fournier, said he had put a troubled past behind him and was working to help others. Recently, Karcher said, Fournier had bought an apartment house with plans to turn it into a sober house for people trying to get off drugs and alcohol.

Fournier planned to make the first one for men. He hoped to create a second sober house for women shortly after, and then expand to meet the need.

“He wanted to do them all over the state of Maine,” Karcher said.

Dalphonse has been held at the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn since he was arrested four days after the shooting. He was ordered held without bail pending a probable cause hearing.

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