SIDNEY — An intruder was shot in the chest Sunday night by a man who came to the rescue of his elderly mother and was in turn seriously injured himself, police said.
The intruder, Dreaquan Foster, 21, of Providence, Rhode Island, forced his way into the home of Audrey Hewett, 84, on Lyons Road in Sidney, according to a Monday news release from Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason.

But Foster was thwarted by the resident’s son, Eric Hewett, 47, who lives nearby and came to the home after receiving a phone call from his mother. Eric Hewett had a handgun and managed to shoot Foster in the chest, but he also suffered a serious head injury during the altercation, Mason said.

Eric Hewett was still at Maine Medical Center in Portland on Monday afternoon, but he is expected to make “a full recovery from (his) injuries,” his wife, Patty Hewett, wrote in an email to the Kennebec Journal. His mother was “unharmed physically but emotionally shook up,” Patty Hewett said.

Patty Hewett declined to provide further information about what happened Sunday night, but said of her husband: “He is a hero!”

No information was immediately available about Foster’s medical condition Monday afternoon, but Mason said he will be taken to the Kennebec County Jail after he’s released from the hospital. Police did not immediately provide a photo of Foster or announce what charges he faces.

Police and rescue workers responded to the home at 7:11 p.m. Sunday and were there until early Monday morning.

It was the second time in less than a week that a home invasion was thwarted by a central Maine resident with a handgun. On March 8, a Richmond man shot a stranger who entered his kitchen early in the morning as he was preparing to leave for work. The intruder in that case was Shad Hembree, 42, who allegedly used a large metal flashlight to try to break into the kitchen after an earlier warning to leave from the man who lived there, Trevor Whitney. Whitney, a 28-year-old Army veteran who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, then shot Hembree in the shoulder with his pistol, a Sig Sauer .40-caliber semi-automatic.

Hembree, who was not seriously injured, is now facing burglary and criminal threatening charges. Police suggested that his actions may have been related to mental illness, and prosecutors are seeking a mental evaluation for him.

GUN LAWS CAN BE EMPOWERING

In an interview Monday, Robert Schwartz, a retired South Portland police chief and the executive director of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, said he doesn’t know whether legally armed Mainers are more frequently confronting criminal suspects.

But he said there could be a rise in those encounters over the next couple of years, as legislative efforts to change the state’s gun laws make the news. In 2015, lawmakers passed a law allowing Mainers to carry concealed firearms without a permit, and this year, several legislators have submitted bills that would expand access to firearms around the state.

“We’re now an open carry state because of people voting for it,” Schwartz said. “I suspect it will be on the rise at this point. Anytime you bring anything up with people and talk about it, it’s obviously fresh in people’s minds.”

Schwartz said his group’s recommendation is that Mainers call the police to handle all public safety issues, but he also noted that legally armed citizens have a right to use their guns if they feel endangered.

“We’d prefer to be called, to have law enforcement be called,” Schwartz said. “But if (police are) not involved, the person has the right to defend (himself or herself).”

‘A BLUNT INSTRUMENT’

According to Mason, the invasion on Sunday night began when a person knocked on Audrey Hewett’s door asking to use the phone. Hewett told the man, later identified as Foster, to go next door, but he instead began to force his way inside, police said.

Hewett went into her bedroom and called her son, who lives next door. He came over to find the suspect trying to force his way into Audrey Hewett’s bedroom and, according to police, Foster struck him “in the head with a blunt instrument” and continued to attack him after he fell to the floor.

“Foster continued his attack until Eric Hewett shot Foster in the upper chest with a handgun he was carrying,” Mason said.

When sheriff’s deputies arrived on the scene, they found Eric Hewett with a serious head injury and Foster suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. Audrey Hewett was uninjured.

Both Hewett and Foster were treated by the Sidney Fire and Rescue Crew, and Delta Ambulance took them both to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta, according to Mason.

Mason said the Kennebec County Criminal Investigative Division evaluated the scene and that the investigation continued throughout Monday.

Information about Foster’s possible motives and further details about his confrontation with Eric Hewett weren’t immediately available.

The home invasion took place at 47 Lyons Road in a quiet neighborhood with open fields and few homes. No one answered the door Monday morning at Audrey Hewett’s ranch-style home, where a red Toyota Camry was parked in the driveway.

A bay window on the front of the home appeared to have been shattered recently – shards of glass lay on the snow just below the window, and a green tarpaulin was nailed over the empty frame. The sheriff’s office didn’t respond to a question on whether the window wreckage was related to the home invasion.