PALMYRA — A  two-hour standoff in the Wal-Mart parking lot on Route 2 ended peacefully Friday when a suicidal man was taken into custody after sitting in his pickup truck armed with a gun, according to police.

The 28-year-old Corinna man, whom police did not immediately identify, was taken from his truck around 1 p.m. and handcuffed when he apparently surrendered, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

In a news conference, Maine State Police confirmed that the man was taken to a hospital. They said police negotiators worked to persuade him to surrender.

State police Maj. Brian Scott, Lt. Sean Hashey and Sgt. Blaine Bronson said no shots were fired at the scene, where friends and family members of the man spoke with negotiators.

Police got a call shortly after 10:30 a.m. that there was a suicidal man in the Wal-Mart parking lot, and they immediately responded, directing customers from the parking lot and locking down the store, troopers said. Both Route 2 entrances to the parking lot were blocked off.

In all, 30 to 40 police officers were on the scene from the state police, Penobscot and Somerset county sheriff’s departments and the Newport Police Department. Some in tactical team gear were stationed at the corners of buildings.

Hashey said about 100 customers were locked down inside Wal-Mart, which is near the Newport town line. Part of busy Route 2 was closed around noon, and the adjacent Lovley’s Motel, close to where the man sat in his truck, was evacuated.

Maine State Police and Somerset County Sheriff's deputies responded to an armed man threatening suicide in the parking lot at Wal-Mart in Palmyra on Friday.

Maine State Police and Somerset County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an armed man threatening suicide in the parking lot at Wal-Mart in Palmyra on Friday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

‘EMPLOYEES WERE AWESOME’

David Gray, a Dexter lawyer, waited across the street in the Maine Fireworks parking lot during the standoff. His wife had called him from inside Wal-Mart and told him she didn’t know what was going on, but no one could leave.

His wife, Lauren, 53, a legal secretary, said in a phone interview later Friday that she had left work to do a couple of errands and had stopped at Wal-Mart briefly around 10:30 a.m., but just before leaving the store was told no one could exit.

“The Wal-Mart employees were awesome,” Lauren Gray said. “They handed out waters and crackers, and the Dunkin’ Donuts folks came around with little samples of things. One of the Wal-Mart employees was walking around with crayons and pictures for the kids to color.”.

MERCHANTS EXPRESS CONCERN

She said they were never told officially why the lockdown occurred, but they had heard a man was outside with a gun. However, she said, no one was panicking or frightened.

“I just want to say that law enforcement presence deserves the highest form of kudos that any of us could give them,” she said. “I never felt like I wasn’t safe – ever.”

Employees handed out diapers to people with babies, and those who had bought cold or frozen goods were given bags with their names written on them that were stored in coolers or freezers and handed out after the standoff ended.

Everyone was friendly to one another, Lauren Gray said.

“I heard a couple of people say, ‘Oh, let’s be Facebook friends after this.’ Clearly everyone was concerned about what was happening outside, but it was not a negative thing inside that place,” Gray said.

Merchants along Route 2 expressed concern about the man in the pickup truck as they watched the police activity.

Maine State Police and other law enforcement agents respond to a report of an armed man threatening suicide in the parking lot at Wal-Mart in Palmyra on Friday.

Maine State Police and other law enforcement agents respond to a report of an armed man threatening suicide in the parking lot at Wal-Mart in Palmyra on Friday. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel

Just after noon, Benjamin Beers, a salesman at Newport Motor Sports, said he had heard the man in the truck was despondent and he hoped all would turn out well.

“It’s sad because it’s just a cry for help,” Beers said. “If he wanted to kill himself, he’d be dead. I think he just wants someone to know he’s hurting.”

State police issued a news release around noon confirming that they were dealing with “a police emergency of a man inside a vehicle in the parking lot,” but it did not confirm he had a gun.

“The incident is confined to the vehicle,” the release said. “No one has been injured.”

WAL-MART COMMENTS

The man was in a black pickup truck with an extended cab and a toolbox in its bed, parked at the back of the parking lot near Lovley’s Motel. He could be seen occasionally talking on a cellphone.

A man parked in his vehicle near Maine Fireworks said he was a Wal-Mart manager and was to report to work at 2 p.m., but got there early to help in any way he could after he was allowed into the store.

Charles Crowson, senior manager for Wal-Mart corporate communications based in Bentonville, Arkansas, sent an email Friday evening, saying: “We take the safety of our customers and associates seriously at all times. We were notified by state police of the situation in our parking lot and agreed to close until the matter was resolved.”