WINDHAM — A 66-year-old man armed with a gun in the driveway of his Windham home was shot and killed by a Cumberland County sheriff’s deputy Saturday morning, authorities said.
It was the second use of deadly force by a police officer in Maine this year.
Police were called to 2 Searsport Way about 6:15 a.m. after getting a call from the wife of Stephen McKenney saying her husband was suicidal.
Windham police removed her from the house and within minutes, McKenney emerged from the garage with a handgun, police said.
After two Windham police officers and the sheriff’s deputy made several attempts to get McKenney to drop the gun, the deputy fired two shots. One of the shots hit and killed McKenney.
“This happened very quickly. The officers were acting on the fly,” said Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce. He said it was just 17 minutes between the time that McKenney’s wife called and when the deputy fired the shots.
Joyce said there was no time to call in a negotiator or mental health expert because of how rapidly events unfolded.
Joyce said all Cumberland County jail guards and sheriff’s deputies undergo a week of training on dealing with crises, including those involving people who have a mental illness, conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Although not all of his deputies have taken the NAMI training, Joyce said, the officer who shot McKenney had received the training.
Joyce said he doesn’t know if the deputy and the two Windham officers had any contact with McKenney other than to order him to drop the handgun. He said the investigation will reveal those details.
Police were withholding the name of the deputy for 24 hours under a state law that is intended to give an officer involved in a shooting time to talk to friends and family about the shooting and also to let the officer get some rest.
The deputy has been placed on administrative leave, which is standard procedure, Joyce said. He said the deputy had not been involved in an incident involving deadly force before and described him as relatively new to the force.
The Maine Attorney General’s Office is investigating Saturday’s incident, which also is standard procedure in cases of officer-involved shootings.
Searsport Way is a newer neighborhood of single-family homes off Route 302. Town records indicate the house at 2 Searsport Way was bought by Stephen and Vicki McKenney for $226,000 in August 2008.
Police remained outside the home Saturday afternoon and allowed only residents to enter the neighborhood.
Windham Police Chief Rick Lewsen said police had never had dealings with McKenney before Saturday.
The previous use of deadly force by a police officer in Maine this year occurred March 18, when a woman was wounded in a standoff with Rumford police.
Brian MacMaster, director of investigations for the Attorney General’s Office, said the Rumford woman was suicidal when she was shot.
There were nine police shootings in Maine last year, MacMaster said, many of them involving people threatening suicide.
“Unfortunately, it happens all too often,” MacMaster said Saturday afternoon.
An autopsy on McKenney’s body will be performed by the state Medical Examiner’s Office either Sunday or Monday, MacMaster said.
The Attorney General’s Office has investigated 114 incidents involving shootings by police since 1990.
A 2012 Portland Press Herald series that examined the police use of deadly force when responding to incidents involving people with mental illness found that Maine and other states did not use special methods or training that could defuse life-threatening incidents.
Joyce said Cumberland County’s training with NAMI offers some guidelines to police dealing with mentally ill people but has a broader focus on de-escalating crisis situations.
Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:
Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at: