JEFFERSON — Michelle Creamer sat in a parked car in the driveway of a friend’s house, having a heated phone conversation Monday night with her former boyfriend of 16 years, Shane Prior.

She didn’t know that he was hiding in the woods, armed with a handgun.

“In truth, he was lying in wait there on the property,” said Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety.

Prior emerged from the darkness when Creamer left the parked car about 10 p.m., and pulled her down the driveway. He fired more than one shot, one of which struck Creamer in the arm. Wounded, the 30-year-old woman ran into the house and called police.

Prior led police on a short car chase that ended just over a mile away off Route 32 with an exchange of gunfire. During the shootout, 34-year-old Prior killed himself with a gunshot to the head.

Creamer was treated at Lincoln Health-Miles Campus in Damariscotta and released.

Maine State Police released those details Tuesday, as the domestic violence-related shooting echoed other recent Maine cases that have resulted in the deaths of women and children caught in the crossfire.

In 2011 during an eight-day period, two domestic violence attacks in Dexter and Winslow left two women and two children dead. In both cases, the men who killed them also committed suicide.

Domestic violence has been the cause of about half of all homicides in the state over the last couple of years, according to data collected and reported by the Maine Domestic Abuse Homicide Review Panel. Between 2014 and 2015, 24 of the state’s 46 homicide victims died at the hands of family members or intimate partners.

Furthermore, perpetrators in 16 cases the group considered for its latest report were more likely to commit suicide, with nine threatening suicide before or after the attack and six committing suicide afterward.

Francine Garland Stark, executive director of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence and a member of the state’s review panel, said those and other deadly high-profile domestic violence cases have a common factor.

“One of the things that’s certainly remarkable, or remarked upon, is how frequently the threats of suicide” are associated with those cases, she said Tuesday.

ACT OF VIOLENCE

Prior and Creamer, of Cushing, had two children together but had become estranged in recent weeks and Creamer had been staying at her friend’s house on Somerville Road in Jefferson. Their children, ages 6 and 10, were outside the home at the time of the incident but did not see the shooting and were not injured, McCausland said.

Col. Robert Williams, of the Maine State Police, said outside the state public safety office Tuesday that troopers staged outside the property because Prior was still in the driveway when they arrived.

He then fled in his truck and troopers followed him, McCausland said. They pursued Prior for 1.3 miles before he stopped on his own off Route 32, McCausland said.

Prior had a handgun, and he fired a shot in the direction of the troopers, McCausland said, and then a trooper returned three to four shots.

Prior then turned the gun on himself, dying from “a single, self-inflicted, gunshot wound to the head,” McCausland said shortly after an autopsy of Prior’s body was performed Tuesday morning at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Sgt. Jason Madore, the trooper who returned fire, was not injured and was placed on administrative leave with pay as the Maine attorney general’s office investigates police involvement in the shooting. McCausland said placing the trooper on leave is standard procedure in all police-involved shootings in Maine.

Madore is a 12-year veteran of the state police who works for Troop D in Augusta, McCausland said, and he’s a longtime member of the agency’s crisis negotiation team.

UNDER INVESTIGATION

Police also continue to investigate the circumstances leading up to the dispute between Prior and Creamer on Monday night, which authorities characterized as an act of domestic violence. The two had been together since about 2000 before breaking up about four to five weeks ago, police said.

Several people were at the Jefferson home where Creamer was staying on Tuesday morning, but they were reluctant to speak.

One of them, a woman named Flame Gracie, said she owned the home but did not want to provide any more information. Another said she was a family member of Creamer’s who was there to comfort her and her children, but she declined to provide her name.

Both Creamer and Prior have Facebook pages indicating they’re single, and they appeared to interact on the social network as recently as last week, when a photo of Creamer was posted on her page. Within the hour, Prior wrote a comment on the photo: “You are as beautiful inside as you are out Michelle.”

The two exchanged cordial comments on another photo Creamer shared that day.

According to Prior’s Facebook page, he was self-employed recently but used to work for a building contractor in Rockport. According to Creamer’s page, she studied mental health and human services at the University of Maine at Augusta and works as a nursing assistant at a long-term care facility in Damariscotta.

Attempts to reach Creamer for comment Tuesday were not successful.

McCausland said Tuesday that police are unaware of Prior having any criminal history, including whether Creamer requested any protection orders against him.

HIGHEST PRIORITY

Stark, of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, expressed sympathy Tuesday for all affected by the shooting in Jefferson, but she declined to speak about the specifics of the situation.

Her group supports the work of domestic violence resource centers around the state, including the Family Violence Project in Augusta, while also pushing for state-level policies to prevent domestic violence.

While recognizing who the perpetrators of domestic violence are and holding them to account is important, Stark said “the highest priority” is “finding people who might be victims of domestic violence.”

To that end, she advises the public to call the police any time they suspect a domestic violence crime is being committed. Somebody who is experiencing abuse or knows someone who is should calling the statewide domestic violence hot line at 866-834-4357, she said.

In cases of domestic abuse, she also advises against rushing to judgment about any of the parties.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker