ALFRED — Susan Johnson was shot twice, in an arm and in the back, and was hiding behind a Christmas tree in her apartment in Biddeford on Saturday night when her landlord fatally shot her son and his girlfriend, police say.
Johnson, who was left for dead, called police to report that she had been shot.
She made the call just minutes after a police officer left the apartment, apparently reassured that the landlord – James Pak – was not a threat to his tenants after a confrontation about a parking space at the home.
New details of the shootings emerged from police and court documents Monday as Pak appeared in York County Superior Court in Alfred to face two counts of murder.
Pak said nothing in court. He was not required to enter a plea. He is being held without bail in the York County Jail, pending a hearing to determine whether he can be held until his trial.
Murder carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
Although Maine State Police and jail officials list Pak’s age as 74, his driver’s license and prior police contacts list his age as 67. Authorities could not explain the discrepancy Monday.
The shootings occurred in an apartment that is part of Pak’s house at 17 Sokokis Road.
Police say Pak had been drinking when he shot Johnson twice, then fired two shots each into Johnson’s son, Derrick Thompson, 19, and his girlfriend, Alivia Welch, 18.
Thompson and Welch died of gunshot wounds to the chest, according to the state Medical Examiner’s Office.
Johnson told police that she “heard Welch scream, ‘Don’t shoot, stop,’” then heard two more gunshots, says an affidavit filed by state police Detective Corey Pike in support of Pak’s arrest.
When taken into custody hours later, Pak told police that he had killed three people, apparently unaware that Johnson was alive, according to the affidavit. He said he “spared” the life of Johnson’s other son, 6-year-old Brayden, who was found unharmed in the apartment.
Johnson told police that Pak used a silver-colored handgun with a white handle. Police found a Smith & Wesson revolver in a downstairs bathroom, with the hammer still cocked and red-brown stains on it, the affidavit says. They also found a rifle and a shotgun in a basement crawl space.
The affidavit says that more than two hours after Pak’s arrest, his blood alcohol content was 0.15 percent, nearly twice the legal limit for driving.
Derrick Thompson apparently first called Biddeford police at 6:07 p.m. Saturday to report that Pak was banging on his door, yelling and threatening him. Johnson recorded the confrontation on her cellphone before police arrived.
Officers Edward Dexter and Jacob Wolterbeek responded to the call and determined that it was a civil dispute, apparently over late rent and the number of cars parked in the driveway.
“Thompson told Officer Dexter that Pak got in his face and told Thompson to hit him,” the affidavit says. “Thompson told Officer Dexter that Pak claimed he was going to shoot them and made a hand motion in front of them.
“Thompson told Officer Dexter he was not fearful and did not believe that Pak would do anything that he claimed,” the affidavit says.
Biddeford Deputy Police Chief JoAnne Fiske, in summarizing the police report, said Monday that the two sides were told to keep their distance.
“Derrick and Susan were advised, if the harassment continued, to call (police). Both Derrick and Susan said they did not feel threatened,” she said.
Dexter left the apartment at 6:50 p.m., telling a dispatcher that he would file a report on the incident.
Three minutes later, Johnson called police to report that she had been shot in the back and that her landlord was armed with a pistol.
Police returned to the house within a couple of minutes. Pak’s wife called police to say that her husband was not threatening her but said he was going to kill himself, the affidavit says.
She got out of the house and was led to safety by police, said Police Chief Roger Beaupre.
Dexter went into the apartment and found Johnson’s son Brayden hiding, although it’s not clear where he was. Dexter got him to a neighbor’s house for safety, Beaupre said.
Dexter, who is trained as a paramedic, then found Johnson hiding behind the tree. He gave her emergency medical treatment, then carried Johnson outside and down the street to a waiting ambulance.
Officer Scott Evans found Thompson and Welch, and determined they were dead.
Sgt. Normand Allaire, who was off duty but in the area, was summoned to negotiate with Pak.
After three hours of negotiations, Pak agreed to come out of his house. He initially said he would bring the gun out with him but was warned not to do that, Beaupre said.
As he walked down his driveway toward the police, Pak refused commands to take his hands out of his pockets, Beaupre said. He turned as if to go back inside the house. Officer Evans, who walked up behind him, used one of the department’s newly issued Tasers to disable Pak, who was then handcuffed.
Johnson was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where she was listed in stable condition Sunday night. The hospital said Monday that she was no longer there. Authorities say she was probably discharged or transferred.
Beaupre said police respond to disputes every day involving tenants, landlords and neighbors, and there was nothing to suggest that Saturday night’s confrontation would escalate. Pak had no criminal or mental health history that would have given police cause for concern, the chief said.
He noted that the shootings occurred in a middle-class neighborhood of single-family homes on the outskirts of town, not in the dense city core.
“It can happen anywhere,” he said.
Police intend to analyze the incident to determine whether they might have missed something and what might be done better, he said.
Beaupre said he saw nothing in the department’s call log to indicate that police had ever been called to Pak’s house before Saturday.
Beaupre said Pak does not have a concealed-weapons permit, but noted that while he was at home, he would not have needed one to carry a gun.
Thompson graduated in 2011 from the “alternative pathways” program at Biddeford High School. He worked as an auto detailer for Real Clean, a company that provides cleaning services for Patriot Subaru in Saco.
Welch graduated from Thornton Academy in June and was a pre-nursing student at Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. She worked at Aroma Joe’s in Biddeford.
Welch and Thompson had dated since at least the spring. They referred to themselves on Facebook as married, although they were not. Welch had been staying with Thompson for the past month, police say.
Thompson’s family moved into the house on Sokokis Road in October.
– Staff Writer Gillian Graham contributed to this report.
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