FARMINGDALE — A local man once described as a dangerous “time bomb” was shot and killed by a state trooper after police say the man entered a neighbor’s Bowman Street home with a gun and opened fire Saturday.

Paul Fritze, 41, was shot around 8:30 p.m. outside the home after a confrontation with members of the Maine State Police Tactical Team, said Brenda Kielty, spokeswoman for the Maine Attorney General’s Office, which investigates all shootings that involve police officers.

Kielty said she was unsure whether Fritze died at the scene. The state medical examiner is expected to conduct an autopsy today. Trooper Timothy Black, a member of the tactical team who shot Fritze, has been placed on administrative leave with pay, which is standard procedure when an officer is involved in a shooting, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

The events that led to Fritze’s shooting began around 4:30 p.m. Saturday when he walked a short distance to the raised ranch-style home at 210 Bowman St.

Fritze, who lived at 168 Bowman St., had been invited to his neighbor’s home for a birthday party and started shooting at the two occupants once inside the house, McCausland said. The homeowners fled the house and called police.

Dozens of state troopers and the tactical team converged outside the home. Fritze emerged from the house after several hours and was confronted by the tactical team before being shot.

Rachel Mahar, 37, said she and her male roommate, who owns the house, were home alone with their two dogs when Fritze showed up at the door.

“We thought he was coming to say happy birthday,” Mahar said.

Mahar said Fritze entered the house and began shooting with a handgun. She and her roommate ran in different directions, which she believes unsettled Fritze just long enough to prevent him from focusing fire on either one of them. Mahar said she could hear the bullets hitting the walls around her.

“He shot at my bedroom door eight times,” she said.

Mahar, who was allowed to return to the house Sunday morning, said the shots left a tight pattern, as if Fritze had been aiming at a target.

Mahar said she escaped by jumping off the porch at the front of the house.

“We both got out of the house safely,” she said. “The dogs were inside the whole time. I’m amazed our dogs survived it. I think they huddled together in the closet.”

Mahar had no explanation for what might have caused Fritze to shoot at them. “We have no idea,” she said. “We never saw this coming.”

Mahar described Fritze as a “character.”

“He was a really intelligent guy,” she said.

Lloyd Bruen, who lives two houses up from Fritze, said he and Fritze often chatted when they met on the quiet street.

“He walked downtown every day,” Bruen said. “We all knew him. He didn’t bother anybody, but he was different.”

Bruen said Fritze seemed increasingly depressed since his father died in April. “He was an unhappy camper. He was drinking.”

Bruen’s conversations with Fritze reminded Bruen of those he shared with a friend around the time the friend committed suicide.

“It was like Paul couldn’t do it himself,” Bruen said. “It was like he wanted this to happen.”

Bruen’s wife, LaDonna Bruen, said she wishes that neighbors had done more to reach out to Fritze.

“I feel like we failed him,” she said. “We could see he was going downhill.”

LaDonna Bruen said she doesn’t believe Fritze went to Mahar’s house with the idea of killing anyone. “I think he was just deeply troubled. He got a little grumpy at times, but he was a good person.”

Neither the Bruens nor Mahar was aware of Fritze’s criminal history in New Jersey, which, according to published reports, includes commandeering a bus with passengers at gunpoint and pulling a gun on a woman using an automatic teller machine in order to jump the line.

McCausland confirmed Sunday that Fritze had a criminal record in New Jersey that included convictions in 1994 for two counts of kidnapping, robbery and possession of a firearm for an unlawful purpose. He also was convicted of aggravated assault and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose in another case.

A New Jersey probation officer was quoted in published reports describing Fritze as dangerous, “a time bomb and an accident waiting to happen” when in possession of a firearm.

Fritze also had a criminal history in Maine. In 1999, he was indicted by a federal grand jury in Bangor on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

The indictment followed an incident inside a Waterville home during which Fritze tried to purchase a handgun. The gun owner got suspicious and called police when Fritze left upon being asked to produce his driver’s license.

Information on whether Fritze was convicted of the Maine gun charge was unavailable.

This is the second fatal shooting involving the trooper Black. In 2007, he shot and killed Scott White, 46, outside the Rumford home of White’s former wife. Then-Attorney General Steven Rowe determined the shooting was legally justified. White, according to the attorney general’s report, advanced on Black and Maine State Police Sgt. William Keith with two knives while ignoring Black’s repeated orders to get down.

Mahar, who said she learned of Fritze’s history after talking to police, praised officers for their handling of the situation and neighbors for their help.

“We’re just really grateful to be alive,” she said. “And we’re very glad our neighbors are safe.”

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Craig Crosby can be contacted at 621-5642 or at:

[email protected]