AUBURN, Maine – A standoff that began when a man refused to leave a house after killing his 70-year-old mother ended more than 16 hours later when a tactical squad entered the home and found the gunman dead early Saturday, officials said.
James "Mike" Peters, 42, was believed to have been shot by a member of the tactical team because his body was next to a window through which shots were fired, said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
"We are working under the assumption that he died as the result of one of the shots fired by the state police tactical team," McCausland said.
The standoff began shortly after 10:30 a.m. Friday after Peters shot his mother, whose body remained on the driveway near the home throughout the ordeal, McCausland said. State police said it would have been unsafe to try to retrieve the body.
The son never responded to repeated police telephone calls or to repeated attempts to talk to him through a megaphone, McCausland said.
As the situation wore on, a state police negotiator could be heard using a megaphone to urge the shooter to put down his weapon and come out of the home.
Shortly after 5:20 p.m., there was shouting and a dog barking as several gunshots rang out, first a series of staccato pops, followed by a rapid burst.
"Mike, this is no way to have the situation end," the negotiator called out. Later, the negotiator said, "Mike, the only peaceful solution is for you to put your hands up, put your weapons down. Don't fire at anyone again. We want to help you."
"We've been out here a long time. Our patience is wearing thin," the negotiator added.
A member of the state police tactical team was injured by flying glass when the gunman fired through the window of a vehicle, McCausland said.
At one point, Peters was next to a window inside the home when the state police tactical squad returned fire, he said. It was next to the window that his body was found.
The drama unfolded on Minot Ave. following reports that a woman was killed, and possibly decapitated, and that a man was armed with an assault-style rifle. McCausland said Saturday the woman was shot in the head but was not decapitated.
State police used an armored vehicle to evacuate four to six neighbors living near the scene of the shooting. A police officer and an emergency medical technician were stationed in the home of at least one neighbor who did not wish to be evacuated.
As the standoff wore on, Maine state police took the unusual step of requesting help from their counterparts in New Hampshire. Ten members of the New Hampshire state police tactical squad arrived around 11 p.m. Friday, McCausland said.
It was the first time in at least 20 years that the assistance of another state police agency was requested, the spokesman said.
Reporters were initially kept a quarter of a mile away and then were moved even farther away because of concern that the gunman would be able to view live video reports on television that could alert him to movements of the tactical squad.
The incident caused disruption for people living in the area.
Harold Lucas, 78, of Auburn, said he was trying to return home when he encountered a roadblock and media vehicles.
"I'm very shocked," he said. "Fifty years I've lived here and there's never been anything like this."