PORTLAND — Cumberland County Sheriff’s Deputy Richard Kimball was headed home from an overnight shift at the county jail when he decided that, for a change of pace, he would take Forest Avenue to get home.
That decision may have saved lives.
Kimball helped disarm and detain a suicidal man who was waving a handgun toward passing rush-hour traffic Tuesday morning.
At a news conference Wednesday, Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck praised Kimball and Portland Officer Dan Rose.
“They kept the public safe, the individual safe and, ultimately, they’re going to go home at the end of their shift,” Sauschuck said.
Kimball said he was in front of 880 Forest Ave. at 7 a.m. when the car in front of him stopped abruptly. As he started up again and passed what he assumed was a pedestrian, he saw that the man was waving a silver pistol.
Kimball also saw a school bus behind him that had just taken on children.
“I took a big gulp and said, ‘I have to deal with this,’ ” Kimball said.
Kimball pulled alongside the man, rolled down his passenger window and urged the man to get out of the street and onto the sidewalk. The 64-year-old man, who had just told a friend that he wanted to kill himself, asked whether Kimball had a gun.
Kimball lied, saying he did not, he was just a security officer. The man retreated to the sidewalk, and the school bus passed as Kimball pulled over.
Kimball talked the man into putting the gun in his pocket. He was trying to defuse the situation when the man got agitated and pulled the gun out.
Standing with his car separating him from the gunman, Kimball drew his weapon and ordered the man to drop his.
At that moment, Rose pulled up about 30 feet away.
Police had received calls about the man, and as Rose rolled up, he thought at first that the man was forcing someone out of their car at gunpoint. Then he saw that Kimball was armed and in uniform and was ordering the man to drop the gun.
Rose drew his weapon and also ordered the man to put down his gun.
Instead, the man raised his arms as if to expose his chest and yelled at the officers “Shoot me! Shoot me!”
The man then appeared to accidentally drop his gun. When he reached to pick it up, Kimball tackled him. The man was taken into custody, then taken to Maine Medical Center for a psychological evaluation.
Police have not brought any criminal charges and are consulting with the district attorney to determine whether charges will be filed. Sauschuck would not say whether the gun was loaded, because that information bears on the possibility of criminal charges.
“This is just a shining example of the professionalism at the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and the way we work together on a daily basis,” Sauschuck said at a news conference Wednesday.
Sheriff Kevin Joyce, who attended the news conference, said he was impressed with Kimball’s action on his personal time.
“I’m proud of my guy,” he said. “I think it says a lot that he went about his day afterward like it was no big deal.”
Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at: