Police on Tuesday arrested a Hollis man who had been the subject of a long standoff at a Portland motel – even though he might not have been in the room when police had the building surrounded Monday.

Vincent Teruel, 40, led Portland police officers on a brief foot chase down Congress Street before he was taken into custody, Portland police Lt. Robert Martin said.

Teruel, most recently of Hollis, had been sought in connection with a domestic violence assault in York County, but he also has a lengthy and violent criminal history in Illinois.

Maine State Police, who were investigating the assault, tracked Teruel to the Motel 6 on Riverside Street on Monday with the aim of arresting him. Believing he was holed up inside a room on the fourth floor and possibly armed, authorities surrounded the building and evacuated some guests. The standoff lasted late into the night before police discovered Teruel was not inside the room.

According to a motel customer, Portland police officers showed up as early as 11 a.m. Monday to arrest Teruel, but they never entered the building. By late afternoon, state police cruisers and eventually SWAT team members arrived.

State police spokesman Stephen McCausland said police had tried unsuccessfully multiple times to contact Teruel on Monday, both on the motel room phone and on a cellphone. Police negotiators also tried to speak with Teruel using a megaphone late Monday night.

McCausland acknowledged Tuesday that Teruel may not have been at the motel at all while officers had the building surrounded, but said police were proceeding with an abundance of caution. Asked whether Teruel could have somehow fled the motel while it was surrounded, McCausland said, “I don’t have an answer for that.”

“Right now, we don’t have the time line,” he said. “We know that he checked in, but we don’t know what he did after that.”

Lisa Messinger of Boston, who was staying on the fourth floor – the same floor where Teruel rented a room – was among a dozen or so guests who were forced to leave abruptly Monday evening.

“We couldn’t get our stuff or anything,” Messinger said Tuesday. “Nobody would tell us what was going on.”

After police discovered Teruel was not at the motel, they cleared the scene and allowed guests to return. But the suspect remained at large until early Tuesday afternoon, when Portland police got a tip that a man matching his description was walking on Congress Street near the Westgate Shopping Center. Martin said officers watched him walk into a bank and approached him as he came out.

“We always plan for different scenarios and we thought he might try to run,” Martin said.

Teruel made it about 200 yards before officers caught him. He was being held Tuesday in the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.

Teruel has a long criminal history, mostly in Illinois, including convictions for stealing 100 bronze vases from a cemetery and trying to run over a sheriff’s deputy who was trying to arrest him. He also has escaped custody at least twice, once while on a work crew with other jail inmates in 2013, and during a prisoner transport in 2009. He also has drug-related convictions dating to 1999.

While incarcerated in 2008, Teruel created a profile on the online site Inmate-Connection.

“Today, I’m writing to all of you pretty intelligent women out there to let you know that you’re not alone,” he wrote. “If you’re at home sitting alone, then there is a problem because I haven’t heard from you yet. So why be alone forever? Simply pick up a pen and write today for your joy as well as mine.”

Teruel was sentenced to seven years in prison in September 2014 for the cemetery theft and attempted assault on the sheriff’s deputy, The Associated Press reported, but evidently did not serve that full sentence. It is not known how long Teruel has been in Maine or whether he has ties here. Teruel has no prior criminal record in Maine, according to state public records.

In 2015, Teruel sued a prison warden in federal court in Illinois. The 42-page hand-written complaint details alleged civil rights violations and inhumane and unsanitary living conditions. The case was dismissed because Teruel never paid the filing fee to the court.

McCausland declined to discuss the state police’s handling of the standoff scene, but Messinger said she got the feeling that no one knew what was going on.

“Was he even here?” she asked. “And if he was, they just let him escape? This doesn’t make any sense.”

Messinger also said motel staff was not helpful during the standoff.

The local manager of the motel declined to speak to a reporter Tuesday, but Raiza Rehkoff, director of marketing for G6 Hospitality, the parent company for Motel 6, released a statement:

“Motel 6 is fully cooperating with the authorities regarding this incident, and we will continue to provide whatever assistance is necessary. The safety of our guests and employees is our utmost priority, and we are grateful that all our guests and employees are safe thanks to the efforts led by the law enforcement officers.”

Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

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