PORTLAND – A man accused of shooting a woman in the chest and creating a six-hour standoff was arrested Saturday afternoon after being driven from his apartment by tear gas shot through the second-story windows.

The woman was shot about 11 a.m. just as some 200 students were taking SAT exams at Portland High School less than 100 yards away. The school was locked down, and the shooting caused a brief panic as parents rushed to the scene but were held at bay as police cordoned off the area.

“It’s dreadful,” said Bob Curran, whose son was in the building. Curran and several other parents and school officials were at the school planning a post-SAT cookout for the students.

Students finished the tests after noon and left from the rear of the building because Cumberland Avenue in front of the school was blocked off with crime scene tape.

The standoff at 19 Cedar St. was resolved about 5:20 p.m. as Brian Kelley, 48, fled out the front door and was arrested at gunpoint. Kelley faces charges of elevated aggravated assault and reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon, and civil penalties for creating the lengthy and costly police standoff, said Police Chief Michael Sauschuck.

At one point Kelley had challenged police to come in and get him, according to a police news release.

The woman may have been shot by a pellet gun, Sauschuck said, but police expected to know better after executing a search warrant at the building. The woman, whom he would not identify, was treated at Maine Medical Center and released.

Sauschuck said the elevated aggravated assault, a more serious offense than felony assault, is warranted because the gunman showed a “depraved indifference to human life.”

Parents worried about their children’s safety, but also that the shooting and police response might distract students taking the test, which colleges use to evaluate applicants.

But students said they were either oblivious to the situation evolving outside or are so used to sirens in the city that they paid no attention.

“I heard the sirens, but it’s kind of like a common thing here,” said Kristina Glanville.

Malcolm Arthur Henry, dressed in a bathrobe and slippers as a way to lighten the mood during the high-stakes test, said he went to get a snack and was told to return to his room because the school was in lockdown.

“Lockdowns are usually a gunman or something like that,” but he said he returned to his room and completed the test without concern.

“I was oblivious to anything besides multiple choice and the area of a circle,” said Kate Suslovic, daughter of City Councilor Ed Suslovic.

“Our teacher kept looking out the window,” said Luci Veilleux. “I thought he was just kind of bored.”

Joe Heathco, a proctor during the test, said students didn’t appear distracted by the commotion.

“The kids in my room didn’t notice a thing,” he said. “Nobody called attention to it.”

Principal Debi Migneault said that at the conclusion of the test, students were told to leave from the rear of the building. She said none of the students reported being distracted and that test results should not be affected.

Neighborhood residents, some of whom were evacuated from their homes, clamored to return. Some said they had left dogs inside that needed to be walked or watered.

Nathaniel Shaheen had his coat zipped tight against a cool breeze in the late afternoon, as his wife’s ball python Medusa tried to stay warm by coiling around his shoulders. The snake can’t tolerate cool weather for long, he said.

Police late Saturday were still trying to piece together precisely what happened and the relationship between Kelley and the victim. Police believe the woman was shot in the chest outside 19 Cedar St.

Melanie Greenleaf, a parent who was in her car on Cumberland Avenue around 11 a.m., said she saw a middle-aged woman being assisted by police on the steps of a nearby building.

Police had helped the victim walk from Cedar Street to Cumberland Avenue, she said. Greenleaf didn’t see any blood.

“She was walking on her own with assistance from an officer,” Greenleaf said.

Police told parents and children at a nearby talent competition at the Salvation Army on Cumberland Avenue to stay away from the windows.

Karen Sargent, who lives at the corner of Cumberland and Cedar, said she believes she heard the shooting.

“I just heard a big bang. Then I heard a little kind of a whimper. It sounded like a dog had got shot,” she said.

Kelley was holed up in a run-down three-unit building with peeling yellow paint on its shingles and the number 19 denoted with black electrical tape. Three second-story windows on the west side were smashed where police had fired rounds of tear gas into the apartment.

Early on, police blocked sections of Cumberland Avenue and Oxford, Cedar and Chestnut streets; snipers took positions atop nearby buildings; and other officers with rifles and shotguns set up around the neighborhood.

Members of Portland’s Special Reaction Team, wearing helmets and green camouflage and carrying rifles, started to arrive.

Even though the victim’s wound appeared to be the result of a pellet gun, police learned Kelley had access to other firearms in the building, Sauschuck said. That was one reason police were concerned and were being extremely cautious.

“When we’re talking about the safety of the public and officers and the subject in question, we do believe time is on our side,” Sauschuck said.

Councilor Suslovic, chairman of the Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee, was on hand tending the barbecue set up for the high school test takers. He said Portland’s cautious approach was good.

“I think one of the hallmarks of the Portland Police Department is patience dealing with volatile situations and I think as a result, the record would show the majority of events end peacefully,” he said. “I feel bad for the neighbors, but better this way than to go in guns blazing.”

Police attempted to negotiate with Kelley, calling him on the telephone, but he refused to come out, Sauschuck said.

“He refused to cooperate,” Sauschuck said. “We had exhausted our options, so we stepped up to gas.”

As Kelley was led to the arrest wagon by officers, neighborhood residents applauded.

Staff Writers Bill Nemitz and Leslie Bridgers contributed to this report.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com