December 12, 2013

Hollis man, 61, killed in police standoff

Police say negotiators were trying to get John Knudsen to surrender when he fired a handgun at state troopers.

By David Hench dhench@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

HOLLIS — A Hollis man was killed by a Maine State Police trooper Thursday afternoon after he fired a gun at troopers, police said.

click image to enlarge

Responders gather at the scene of an armed standoff on Route 35 in Hollis where 61-year-old John Knudsen was shot dead by police Thursday.

Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer

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Carl D. Walsh/Staff Photographer A police officer wearing camouflage gear puts away his rifle after a standoff ended in a fatal shooting on Route 35 in Hollis on Thursday. Police said John Knudsen was alone in his home when he shot at troopers, eliciting return fire.

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John Knudsen, 61, had been in a standoff with police at his home since before noon.

Police were called to the home late Thursday morning after Knudsen’s wife, Linda, said her husband had threatened her and then fired a shot, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Members of the state police tactical team surrounded his house as negotiators tried to get him to give himself up.

After extended negotiations – as the tactical team kept watch on the house in Thursday’s bitter cold – Knudsen went to his front door, said something to police, then fired a handgun at troopers, police said.

Trooper Tyler Stevenson, a member of the tactical team and a nine-year veteran of the department, returned fire and fatally shot Knudsen around 2:15 p.m.

McCausland said Stevenson has been put on administrative leave with pay – a standard procedure – while the shooting is investigated by the Attorney General’s Office.

Such an investigation is required whenever a police officer in Maine uses deadly force. The Attorney General’s Office must determine whether it was legally justifiable.

Police officers may use deadly force only in situations in which they perceive an imminent threat against themselves or someone else, and actually and reasonably believe that deadly force is necessary to counter that threat.

Troopers were called to the house, at Little Falls Road and Route 4 and across the street from the town library, late Thursday morning. Knudsen’s wife reported that he had threatened her. He was alone in the house when police arrived.

Little Falls Road, also called Route 35, branches off Route 4, which is the main road through Hollis. Firefighters set up barricades and prevented people from walking or driving on the road during the standoff, and then while the investigation was under way.

The road remained closed into Thursday night as investigators worked at the scene.

The standoff drew intense interest as curious residents compared notes inside the nearby Your Country Store.

“This is the place everybody comes to get their information,” said Marion Stone, who owns the store. She said the incident began about 10:30 a.m.

Residents said the house had been on the market for at least a few months, and different people appeared to be living there periodically.

McCausland said the state Medical Examiner’s Office will do an autopsy on Knudsen’s body Friday to determine how he died.

Knudsen had no criminal record in Maine, according to the state Bureau of Identification.

David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

dhench@pressherald.com

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