This story’s headline was updated at 2:15 p.m. May 25 to correct that a judge did not order a psychological evaluation for Frederick Wintle.

AUGUSTA – A state legislator accused of pulling a loaded handgun on a man in Waterville on Saturday will undergo a psychological evaluation and has been barred from the Capitol complex.

Rep. Frederick L. Wintle, R-Garland, remained in jail Monday after his first appearance in Kennebec County Superior Court. He faces a felony charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

Wintle, 58, asked to speak during his bail hearing before Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy, but he remained silent after conferring with his attorney, Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport.

It wasn’t until after the hearing, outside the courtroom, that he told TV and newspaper reporters: “I believe in America. I believe in God. I believe in my family. I believe this is going to be all right.”

The Kennebec County jail is working to obtain a psychological evaluation for Wintle, said District Attorney Evert Fowle. It may take several days to find a facility and complete the evaluation, he said.

“This is a man who for 58 years has not had a problem at all,” Fowle said after the hearing. Fowle said Wintle helped him jump-start his car about a week ago after others had declined to assist him.

Wintle’s behavior culminated in criminal charges Saturday morning. Police said he pointed a .22-caliber handgun at Michael Seamans of Sidney in the parking lot of Dunkin’ Donuts on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville.

Police have said that Seamans, a photographer for the Morning Sentinel who was stopping for coffee while heading to work, was an innocent bystander.

During the incident, Wintle said he was looking for the drug dealer of a dead boy’s mother in Waterville, Seamans has said. Wintle then pulled the handgun from his waistband and pointed it at Seamans, who said he backed away and called police.

In court Monday, Wintle told Murphy that he understood his rights and the charges against him. Wintle wore an orange jumpsuit and sat in the jury box.

To be released, Murphy ruled, Wintle must provide $3,500 in cash and agree not to return to the grounds of the Capitol unless he receives permission from House Speaker Robert Nutting, R-Oakland.

Fowle said the restriction related to the Capitol is “unusual,” but it was imposed at Nutting’s request.

If released, Wintle would also be prohibited from contacting Seamans, possessing a firearm or returning to Dunkin’ Donuts in Waterville.

Fredette declined to speak about Wintle’s mental health and said it is important to “let the process unfold and all the facts be gathered.”

Wintle’s family “is having a very tough time,” Fredette said, and “our thoughts and prayers go out to them and all the people involved in this process.”

Nutting said Monday that he had spoken to Wintle about his behavior before Saturday’s incident, and even reached out to his pastor to try to get help for him.

“We did all we thought we could do,” Nutting said. “We had members of leadership talking to him, we had members of Capitol Police talking to him. We reached out to his family, his pastor. We did all we thought we could do and at the same time we were trying not to be confrontational with him to evoke some response we didn’t all want to see.”

But since he hadn’t broken the law, Nutting felt he couldn’t do more than continue to monitor Wintle’s situation. A House Republican staffer was assigned to the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee to watch Wintle in recent weeks, Nutting said.

“Although people saw that Rep. Wintle had changed his behavior, we are frankly shocked he would take it as far as he apparently took it Saturday morning at the Dunkin’ Donuts,” he said.


In March, David Boulter, executive director of the Legislature, asked Capitol Police to intervene after Wintle complained repeatedly about the condition of the U.S. flag that flies above the State House.

Wintle was concerned that it was torn and wanted it replaced, said Russell Gauvin, chief of the Capitol Police.

“He was very upset and was raising his voice, pointing fingers, getting in staff’s face,” he said.

Gauvin eventually issued a trespass notice to Wintle that barred him from entering Boulter’s office.

Boulter declined to comment on the incident.

Rep. Kerri Prescott, R-Topsham, House chairwoman of the labor committee, said she had multiple conversations with leadership, her co-chairman and House staff about the best way to deal with Wintle.

“I’ve seen erratic behavior that was concerning for the last couple of months,” she said. “He was clearly out of line. I’d say there was a disconnect. There were a lot of conversations that weren’t germane to the topic.”

Prescott said Wintle did things to draw attention to himself, including mentioning weapons and once laying on the House floor during a session and drinking a bottle of water.

“He did tell me he would never hurt me or anybody else,” she said. “It made me nervous he brought it up.”

Other members of the labor committee did not want to discuss Wintle’s behavior, other than to say they hope he gets help.

“I know Fred personally,” said Rep. Robert Hunt, D-Buxton. “I hope he can work through the issues surrounding him now.”

House Minority Leader Emily Cain, D-Orono, said fellow Democrats have raised concerns about his behavior, but they did not say they feared him.

“Generally, to his colleagues, he was friendly and kind and upbeat,” she said. “It was the change in behavior that happened over several months, particularly in the last month.”

Cain and Nutting said they need more information — from the courts and others — before deciding whether to take action on Wintle’s status as a lawmaker.

The state constitution gives the House the power to “punish members for disorderly behavior” or expel them on a two-thirds vote.

Lawmakers said Monday that it’s too soon for that discussion. Although Nutting was concerned about Wintle’s behavior, he had not heard threats about weapons.

“I never heard about a gun until Saturday,” he said. “But there were people who were concerned about his behavior and were concerned about him being here and, frankly, being abusive in some cases to some of the people who were here from the public testifying.”

If convicted, Wintle faces a maximum of five years in prison on the felony charge and 364 days on the misdemeanor charge. His next scheduled appearance in Kennebec County Superior Court is July 26 at 10 a.m.