Published Tuesday, June 11, 2013
WEST PARIS — The 18-year-old who was shot by a state trooper Saturday evening was carrying a walking stick – not a rifle – when he left his home, his grandmother said, but a resident of Roy Road near the site of the shooting said his home was burglarized and two rifles were stolen the same night.
Eleanor Paine, 77, the grandmother of James Reynolds, who was shot in the head, left arm and leg, said Reynolds often carried his grandfather’s walking stick when he traipsed through the woods.
“He had nothing to do with guns,” Paine said at her home Monday. “There are no guns here.”
But after the shooting, police said they found Reynolds with items allegedly stolen from the nearby seasonal residence owned by Charles Coughlin, of Franklin, Mass., including a rifle and ammunition. The log cabin had a smashed front window.
“The weapon (Reynolds) was in possession of at the time of the interaction with our trooper was found to be stolen from the residence,” said Sgt. Michael Edes, supervisor of Trooper Jason Wing.
Wing is on paid administrative leave while the state Attorney General’s Office investigates whether his use of deadly force was justified.
The second rifle apparently was moved inside the residence but not taken from it, Edes said.
The gun found with Reynolds was a lever action, high-powered hunting rifle with a scope. In an interview, Coughlin said both guns were hidden and had trigger locks on them. He said Saturday’s burglary was the sixth time someone had broken into his home, and the second time that a firearm was stolen. A rifle taken in the earlier theft was later recovered by sheriff ’s deputies and returned to Coughlin , he said.
Edes said that after the Saturday night e n c o u n t e r, Coughlin also confirmed that he left four B u d w e i s e r Light cans in his refrigerator. Reynolds was found with four Budweiser Lights, still cold, in his backpack, said Edes, who was authorized to speak only about the alleged burglary.
Asked whether Reynolds had a history with police, Paine demurred. Coughlin said that after the second burglary, when alcohol was stolen, Reynolds’ mother, Julie, took responsibility and said she would pay restitution for the damage. According to Coughlin, she never paid.
Paine said her grandson had recently been hospitalized for an extended period of time to treat an anxiety disorder, and was released in March. She said Reynolds dropped out of high school in the ninth grade.
Hospital officials at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewis-ton, where Reynolds was transported Saturday night, said he had been upgraded to serious condition Monday, from critical condition on Sunday. However, Paine said he had been downgraded again to critical.
“We’re waiting for James to live or die,” Paine said. “If he walks out of there, he’ll never be the same person.”
Police were originally called to Roy Road, which is near Route 219, about 6:15 p.m. Saturday for a report of a suspicious person. According to Edes, one of the neighbors had recognized Reynolds and called others in the neighborhood and police to alert them to his presence, since they did not believe he had any business being on the private road.
Wing was dispatched to investigate the report and arrived about 15 minutes later. Police would not comment on the shooting, but a police spokesman reaffirmed that Reynolds was carrying a hunting rifle when Wing encountered him.
Meanwhile, Paine, Julie Reynolds and other family members wait to hear if the teen’s condition improves. Had he stayed in high school, Reynolds would have been receiving his diploma about the time he was shot.
“He underwent brain surgery Saturday night, and he’s on life support. They gave him more surgery on his arm today,” Paine said Monday.
Paine said she lives next door to Reynolds and his mother in West Paris on Sumner Road, also known as Route 219. When his mother, Julie Reynolds, is at work, her son was often at Paine’s house. His parents divorced when he was less than 2 years old, Paine said.
Paine’s house is less than a mile from the scene of Saturday night’s shooting.
She said she last saw her grandson around 4:30 p.m. Saturday. “He came over to my house to see if I had supper ready,” she said.
Paine said there were no guns or rifles in either home. She said Reynolds often liked to go for walks, and when he did, he carried a walking stick that his grandfather had made and given to him.
Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, when asked about the walking stick, replied: “He (Reynolds) was armed with a hunting rifle.” McCausland would not elaborate.
William McKinley, the Portland attorney who represents members of the Maine State Troopers Association, said his client is cooperating with investigators.
“The officer involved does not have to present him or herself for an interview,” said McKinley, who traveled to West Paris on Saturday night. “Trooper Wing chose to present himself voluntarily for an interview. … You can infer the obvious from that. Had he not felt confident in his decision-making, he would not have attended.”
Typically, investigations into the use of deadly force can take as long as two months, McCausland said.
Paine said Reynolds, who dropped out of Oxford Hills Comprehensive High School in 2009, sometimes tested his limits. “He tried to go back (to school) a couple of times but it didn’t work for him,” she said.
Reynolds has no criminal history as an adult, but he did lose his license after a drunken driving crash when he was 17, according to a Maine State Police report and the Secretary of State’s Office. According to the crash report, Reynolds was driving a 2001 Pontiac at 2:41 p.m., two days after his 17th birthday, when the car went off Round the Pond Road in Norway.
The car was towed, and Reynolds suffered minor injuries. Blood test results were pending, according to the report, but drivers under 21 are not allowed to have any alcohol in their system and his license was suspended.
Paine said Reynolds enjoyed music and played guitar and video games. He also did some work at the West Paris animal shelter. She said she didn’t know why he was shot.
“I talked to the people with the state police, I talked to the state trooper. I don’t know,” she said.
According to documents provided by the Attorney General’s Office, this is not Wing’s first use of deadly force in the course of duty. In 2008, his first year as a trooper, Wing fired three rounds from a rifle into an oncoming truck driven by a suspect whom police were pursuing. A report by the Attorney General’s Office after the June 28, 2008, encounter found Wing was legally justified when he shot at the vehicle.
The suspect, then-51-year old Lawrence Lapoint of Mexico, was believed to have been armed. Police were pursuing Lapoint after a report that he allegedly threatened to kill his domestic partner. No one was injured in that incident.
Wing graduated in 2003 from Lewiston High School and served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine.
Staff Writer David Hench contributed to this report.