A South Portland man accused of shooting a couple to death in front of their two children in Westbrook in June was charged with two counts of murder and the attempted murder of their 11-year-old son.

Marcel LaGrange, Jr. Cumberland County Jail

A Cumberland County grand jury indicted Marcel LaGrange Jr., 24, Thursday on six counts, including aggravated assault, criminal threatening and reckless conduct with a deadly weapon.

Police don’t believe LaGrange had any connection to Brittney Cockrell, 37, and Michael Hayter, 41, when he allegedly confronted the couple and their children in a parking lot at the intersection of Main and Bridge streets in Westbrook.

Officers said they responded to reports of gunshots just before 8:30 p.m. on June 19 and witnessed LaGrange shoot Cockrell near a parked car. Hayter, who police say was dead when first responders arrived, was in the car with the couple’s two children, Mason, 11, and Mattie Belle, 7.

LaGrange also fired at Mason and “intended to cause multiple deaths,” the indictment states.

After officers arrived, LaGrange ran down Main Street and assaulted a 75-year-old man before several bystanders tackled and disarmed him, police said.


LaGrange used a 10 mm Glock handgun to commit the shootings, according to the indictment. He has not been charged with possessing a weapon illegally, and according to a state police spokesperson, he was not prohibited from owning a firearm because he had never been convicted of a felony.

He was taken to Cumberland County Jail and made his initial court appearance on June 21 but did not enter a plea. He is currently being held at the Maine State Prison and faces a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.


Hayter and Cockrell had moved from Texas to Westbrook about six months before the shooting after Hayter got a job at a car dealership, Cockrell’s sister, Laura Faye McKinney, said during an interview in the wake of the shootings.

Brittney Cockrell, right, with her three children, and partner Michael Hayter. Cockrell and Hayter were shot to death in June. Photo courtesy McKinney family

“Westbrook seemed like a nice place to live,” she said in June. “They thought the area would be safe for their kids.”

Mason and Mattie Belle returned to Texas with Cockrell’s father, Jeff McKinney, and his wife, and the kids are set to return to school in the fall, McKinney wrote in a message on Friday afternoon.


“Mason and Mattie Belle are more like our own children now,” he wrote. “They laugh, cry and play. We are very thankful, grateful, and feel blessed that they were physically unharmed by the shooter.”

Days after the shooting, McKinney addressed reporters in Westbrook and lamented what he called “a senseless tragedy.” He remembered Cockrell as a loving mother and said Hayter was a man who brought happiness into every room he entered.

On Friday, he called for LaGrange’s prosecution following “this evil, hateful slaughter.”

“Though nothing will bring Mike and Brittney back to their children and our family, at this point we anxiously await justice to be served. We do not want to see this individual released to the street to harm more innocent families.”

Jeff McKinney, the father of Brittney Cockrell, 37, who was shot and killed along with her partner in front of their children in Westbrook, gave a statement to the public in June, asking for support for his grandchildren. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

LaGrange’s grandmother, Gloria Ouellette, whom he was living with in South Portland before the shooting, did not return a message asking to discuss the case Friday.

LaGrange’s court-appointed lawyer, Tina Nadeau, did not answer requests to discuss the indictment against LaGrange and whether she expects his history of mental illness will play a role in his defense.



Though juvenile criminal records are generally sealed to the public, court documents detailing LaGrange’s continued stint at Long Creek Youth Development Center after he turned 18 suggest his trouble with the law began when he was a minor.

Twice in October 2018, LaGrange demonstrated unstable and threatening behavior. According to court records, he has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and autism.

After being fired from his job at Goodwill for stealing, LaGrange said he wanted revenge and began making threats against co-workers, according to a report from corrections officer Joe Fagone.

“I just can’t wait to see the look on their faces when they see a bunch of (expletive) kids die and a bunch of other innocent people,” he allegedly told Long Creek staff. “People that weren’t even involved will get killed.”

Barely a week later, LaGrange threatened to kill himself after Long Creek staff told him he could not watch TV during school hours, according to another report from Fagone. After staff wrestled an uncooperative LaGrange into his room, he tried to set off the building’s sprinkler system and warned a staff member “to watch his back because he was going to hurt him.”


LaGrange was taken to the county jail and charged with several crimes, including assaulting an officer.

He was twice kicked out of his home in 2020 for threatening the people he lived with, according to court records. First, he allegedly assaulted his grandmother while she was driving a car, then refused to leave her home when police arrived. Later, police say, he attempted to use a makeshift flamethrower to burn down the garage of Yugu Yobo, who was paid by the state to serve as LaGrange’s part-time caretaker. The altercation began, Yobo told police, after the pair had argued about whether the soap in Yobo’s bathroom was causing a rash on LaGrange’s skin.

According to a police report, LaGrange “immediately” asked responding officers to shoot him. When police said they were not going to, LaGrange told them that “he would do something so that we would have to arrest him,” and that “his life was over.”


While LaGrange was struggling with the law, nonprofit organizations like Maine Inside Out and a social worker from the state tried to give him the resources he needed to get his life on track, Joseph Jackson, Maine Inside Out’s director of leadership development, said in June. About a year before the shooting, LaGrange found a program in West Paris that provided him with housing and several support services. But Jackson said it ended up being a bad fit for LaGrange, who felt isolated in the small community and grew depressed. Shortly before his arrest, he moved back in with his grandparents in South Portland.

His social media posts, which frequently included violent rap lyrics, artwork depicting the grim reaper and photos of himself holding a handgun, caught the eye of Aspen Nouhan, a Portland resident who thought LaGrange seemed like someone who needed a friend. The pair chatted online before agreeing to meet in person.


While LaGrange seemed “lonely” and “damaged” online, he came off as totally emotionless and dangerous in real life, Nouhan said in June. He showed Nouhan his gun and warned that he was “paranoid and waiting to pounce on people who make him upset.”

Nouhan decided to cut off the brief friendship and asked LaGrange to stay away. LaGrange responded by making a series of increasingly threatening posts and messages on social media.

“Friend or not I will find u,” LaGrange wrote, according to screenshots Nouhan shared with a reporter. “Stay safe because nobody leaves me. It’s a death wish.”

Nouhan called Portland police, who took a report and said they would search for LaGrange. They did not find him before the shootings in Westbrook that night.

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