MADISON — Carroll Tuttle Jr. went on a shooting rampage Wednesday morning that claimed the lives of his wife, their son, and a neighbor over the false belief that his wife and the neighbor were having an affair, the neighbor’s son said.

Michael J. Spaulding, 21, of Gorham, said by phone Thursday that his father, Mike R. Spaulding, was trying to help Lori Hayden get out of an abusive relationship with Tuttle.

Spaulding said his father’s girlfriend was there when the shooting took place on Russell Road and called him a few minutes later, saying Tuttle had just shot his father.

“(His girlfriend) came out and she said (to Tuttle), ‘What’s your problem?’ and he looked down and said, ‘That’s what you get for (expletive) my wife,’ and he left. He just walked away,” Spaulding said. “Those allegations weren’t true because what was happening was Carroll was abusive and my dad was helping his wife move out of the house and get away from that.”

Tuttle, 51, shot and killed Hayden, 52, and their son, 25-year-old Dustin Tuttle, at their home at 316 Russell Road, police said.

Carroll Tuttle then shot and killed Mike R. Spaulding, 57, at his home at 299 Russell Road, before returning to the area of his home and shooting and wounding his brother-in-law, Harvey Austin, 57, of Skowhegan, police said.

Deputies from the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office who had responded to the area then shot and killed Tuttle in his driveway.

A next-door neighbor who witnessed the chaotic conclusion of the violence said deputies spotted Tuttle’s pickup truck and confronted him just after he had shot Austin in the face. Tuttle shot at the deputies, who quickly returned fire and killed him, Donald Curtis said.

“I was standing here with a sheriff, and one of them went down to Carroll’s to confront him and he just started to open fire,” said Curtis, who came out of his house at 294 Russell Road when he saw the police and emergency vehicles going to Spaulding’s home.

Donald Curtis, a next-door neighbor of Lori Hayden on Russell Road in Madison, recounts seeing the gunman, Carroll Tuttle Jr. Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

“Apparently (Tuttle) went into the house and came out the back of the house and come around to the side and shot Harvey Austin right in the face – it was gunfire worse than fireworks. I see Harvey drop in the road. The sheriffs threw me under that truck over there when they started shooting.

“I didn’t see Carroll until it was all said and done. He was dead. It blew my mind.”

Curtis said Hayden and her son worked for Harvey Austin, who runs a construction business.

YOUNG VICTIM’S GIRLFRIEND CALLED 911

Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said the three deputies involved in shooting Tuttle – Chief Deputy James Ross, his son, Detective Michael Ross, and Deputy Joseph Jackson – have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation into the officer-involved shooting by the Attorney General’s Office, which is standard in Maine.

Lancaster revealed Thursday that Dustin Tuttle’s girlfriend, who was at the home and witnessed the shootings, made the initial 911 call.

“The girlfriend fled the residence and when she got to where she felt safe, she called,” Lancaster said.

He said authorities aren’t identifying her because she is a witness to the shootings. Police say they occurred just before 7:30 a.m. at two homes along Russell Road, about 4 miles from the center of Madison and about 2.5 miles from downtown Skowhegan.

“I knew Carroll. I grew up with him, went to school with him,” Curtis said. “He was crazy. … To do something like that, it ain’t right. Man’s got to be messed up somewhere.”

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said in a written statement Thursday that police continue to investigate the killings after completing examinations at the crime scenes around 7 p.m. Wednesday. Autopsies of the three victims were expected to be completed Thursday by the state Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta, McCausland said. The autopsy of Tuttle was expected to happen Friday.

Donald Curtis, a next-door neighbor of Lori Hayden, was thrown under the front of this Ford F-250 by a sheriff’s deputy as officers engaged in a gunfight Wednesday with Carroll Tuttle Jr. on Russell Road in Madison. “The truck has sentimental value to me,” Curtis said Thursday. “My father died seven years ago and left me that truck. It protected me yesterday.” Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Police detectives “will continue to conduct interviews, consult with the medical examiner and attempt to determine the motive for Tuttle’s violence,” McCausland said.

Seven of Maine’s 16 homicide victims last year lost their lives as a result of domestic violence, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

Austin – who is married to Trisha Austin, Lori Hayden’s sister – continues to be treated at Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and is expected to survive, McCausland said.

Mike Spaulding’s sons – Michael Spaulding and Cory Miller – were at their father’s Russell Road home Thursday, sorting through their father’s affairs. They said he was in pajamas Wednesday morning when he probably heard Tuttle drive up his gravel driveway.

“My dad hears everything in the driveway, and he came out to see who it was, and the guy (Tuttle Jr.) shot him from his truck three times,” Spaulding said. “It was planned.”

Mike Spaulding’s girlfriend placed the second 911 call that brought the deputies to Mike Spaulding’s house. She had been in town for less than a week, having come from her home in North Carolina, when she witnessed her boyfriend’s killing, Spaulding said. She was supposed to leave Maine on Sunday, but departed shortly after the violence.

‘HE HAD A TEMPER’

Wayne Parlin, 63, who lives across from Tuttle, said he went to his mailbox at the end of his wooded driveway about 10 a.m. to find his road closed off by police. In front of him, Parlin said, he saw Tuttle face down, his body jutting out into the road.

“He had one arm underneath of him and one arm on his back like they were going to handcuff him,” Parlin said.

Parlin said he’s lived across from Carroll Tuttle for 17 years and used to party with the family, drinking coffee brandy together. Parlin said Hayden and Tuttle were heavy drinkers.

“He could be a nice guy, but he had a temper,” Parlin said.

Dustin stayed quiet and didn’t take sides, he said.

Parlin knew Tuttle owned more than one gun, including a .22-caliber rifle and a hunting rifle, but he didn’t know him to have owned handguns.

The fatal shootings have left residents of Madison and Skowhegan in shock.

At Buzzy’s Barber Shop on Main Street in Madison, Freeman “Buzzy” Buzzell, who has operated a shop since 1963, said the shootings are all anyone is talking about.

“They’re saying just how sad it is and unfortunate,” said Buzzell, 76. “It’s a whole different world, I think, now. I don’t know what the reason is for it, but it was a whole different world back when I was growing up.”

Brian Gordon, a Madison firefighter getting his hair cut Thursday, agreed.

“Everybody’s kind of in shock, I think. It’s a small community,” he said. “I don’t remember seeing anything like this. Everybody’s trying to picture who they were and how they knew them.”

Bob Thompson, also a Buzzy’s customer early Thursday morning, said he thought the shootings were an isolated domestic violence event.

“The whole world’s changing, but I still think Madison’s a pretty safe place to live,” he said. “That was just a family thing, that’s all. I don’t know what makes people do that, go off the deep end.”

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said in a statement that she spoke to Darla Pickett, a longtime Morning Sentinel reporter and Lori Hayden’s mother, by phone Thursday.

“I have known Darla for several years through her work as a reporter for the Morning Sentinel,” Collins said in a statement. “My heart breaks for her and her family, and I cannot imagine her grief. I hope that the love of her family and friends will help her get through this truly horrific tragedy.

HELP WITH VIOLENCE

Skowhegan District Court had no records of protection from abuse orders ever having been filed in connection with Tuttle or Hayden.

Melody Fitch, executive director at the Family Violence Project, said that while many of the facts of the Madison incident remain unclear, one is certain: Domestic violence affects everyone.

“Abuse and violence, even lethal acts of violence, may occur in any neighborhood and in every community,” Fitch said in an email Thursday. “While it is troubling to recognize, a quiet neighborhood in which everyone seems to know one another is as likely a scenario for inexcusable violence and abuse as any other.”

Support and advice from Family Crisis Services, a domestic violence resource center that serves victims and survivors in Cumberland County, is available at 1-800-537-6066.

Portland Press Herald staff writer Matt Byrne contributed reporting.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Twitter:@Doug_Harlow