April 30, 2013

Tense Portland standoff ends with surrender

Police swarm Alder Street and evacuate residents before the man is arrested after four hours on terrorizing and other charges.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND A homeless man was in jail Monday night after creating a tense police standoff in the Bayside neighborhood that lasted for more than four hours.

Kyle Upton

Cumberland County Sheriff's Office

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A suspect surrenders – surrounded by Portland police and SWAT Team members – after a standoff on Alder Street in Portland on Monday evening.

John Ewing / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

Kyle Upton, 28, was charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, terrorizing, assault and causing a police standoff, Portland's assistant police chief, Vern Malloch, said in a news release.

Upton, who surrendered shortly after 7:30 p.m., was being held at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland. His bail was unavailable.

Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said the standoff began around 3 p.m. when officers went to an apartment building at 41 Alder St. to follow up on a woman's domestic violence report to police earlier in the day. When officers arrived, Upton refused to leave a second-floor apartment, forcing police to retreat after learning that Upton might be armed, Sauschuck said.

Alder Street was shut down between Portland and Kennebec streets, and dozens of residents had to be evacuated from their homes.

"It's a densely populated neighborhood and we wanted to make sure everyone was safe," the chief said.

Alder Street was blocked at both ends to traffic, although a bowling league was allowed to continue at the nearby Bayside Bowl on Alder Street.

As the standoff dragged on Monday night, a large crowd of spectators gathered at the intersection of Alder, Portland and Oxford streets, about a block from the Preble Street Resource Center.

The crowd watched as the Portland Police Department's Special Reaction Team moved into position. Wearing body armor and carrying rifles, the team crept behind the cover of the department's Bearcat, which resembles a tank, and its Peacekeeper truck.

Both vehicles, which are heavily armored, were positioned in front of the building where Upton had barricaded himself.

At one point, officers told the crowd to seek cover behind buildings rather than stand in the intersection.

"Move. You are all in the line of fire," Lt. Gary Hutcheson told the crowd.

Sauschuck said he brought in the department's crisis negotiator.

"The negotiations have been ongoing," Sauschuck said during one of two news conferences he held.

At 7:34 p.m., a bald man wearing a black T-shirt and pants emerged from a two-story apartment building on Alder Street with his hands in the air. The man stood outside the doorway for a moment and looked at the small army of police officers and tactical squad members gathered on the street.

With their weapons trained on him, the man turned slowly in a circle to reassure officers that he was not armed. Moments later he surrendered to police, and was later identified as Upton.

The standoff took its toll on the neighborhood, which is near the Midtown Community Policing Center on Portland Street.

Just minutes before Upton was arrested, police asked bowlers at the Bayside Bowl to leave the building.

Sauschuck was apologetic, but said, "Our primary focus tonight was on public safety."

James Terroni and Bob Higgins, who live in the first-floor apartment at 41 Alder St., were not allowed to return to their apartment until the standoff ended, leaving them to speculate about what might have motivated their neighbor.

They said the former second-floor tenants -- two men -- had moved out a few weeks ago, and another man, whom they only knew as Kyle, moved in.

Higgins and Terroni said the man could be raucous and disorderly at times.

"He's a door slammer," Higgins said. "He can be loud from time to time."

Todd Fournier owns the two-story building, which has two apartments. Fournier said he was told that a person living on the second floor had gotten into an altercation with two women, who fled the home and went to police.

"Something occurred that was upsetting to them," Fournier said.

According to a statement issued late Monday night by police, Upton, whom they described as homeless, had been staying with friends in the second-floor apartment.

Police said there were no hostages taken, and that Upton was alone during the standoff.

Sauschuck said Upton has an extensive criminal record, but he could not elaborate.

He said he was not certain if investigators found any weapons at the Alder Street apartment.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

dhoey@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

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SWAT team members make their way up Preble Street in Portland during a standoff on Alder Street on Monday.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Portland police and SWAT team members respond to a standoff at 41 Alder St. in Portland on Monday.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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