Monday, March 10, 2014
By David Hench and Eric Russell
GORHAM — A University of Southern Maine student is scheduled to appear in court Friday on charges of terrorizing and criminal threatening with a firearm following a four-hour police standoff at one of the school’s two remaining off-campus fraternity houses.
An armored vehicle carrying police tactical team members shines a bright light on the University of Southern Maine fraternity building where an armed student was involved in a standoff Wednesday night in Gorham.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer
Alan-Michael Santos, 23, of Winchester, Mass., was being held Thursday on $15,000 bail at Cumberland County Jail in Portland after his arrest late Wednesday night.
Police said he refused to be interviewed about the incident and he declined a reporter’s request for an interview.
Police executed a search warrant Thursday morning at the Sigma Nu fraternity at 24 School St. and seized two handguns that they believe belonged to Santos. They did not recover any other guns in the building.
Santos – a junior majoring in business marketing – was not prohibited from owning a firearm and he has no known criminal history, police said. Police are looking into whether Santos has mental health issues. Lt. Christopher Sanborn of the Gorham Police Department said Santos made no suicidal threats before or during the standoff.
Santos had been with other members of the fraternity at Thatcher’s, a restaurant directly across the street from the fraternity house. He had been drinking and became belligerent, police and school officials said. He was asked to leave and was helped across the street by his friends to the fraternity house and up to his room.
“One of his (fraternity) brothers had gone in to check on him and was met with a gun,” Sanborn said. “That’s when everyone started evacuating the house.”
The students called police at 7:10 p.m. and officers, along with members of nearby departments and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office, set up a wide perimeter around the house. Police cleared some nearby businesses, restricted access to the area and began negotiating with Santos, who had barricaded himself in his room.
Brenda Beeler, who works at Thatcher’s, said she received a call from police shortly after 7 p.m.
“They told us to lock down, not to let anyone in or out,” Beeler said Thursday afternoon.
Within minutes of the call, she said, police cars surrounded the house.
“It was a little weird,” she said. “But people were more curious than scared, I think.”
Beeler estimated about 10 patrons were in the restaurant during the lockdown and watched the standoff from the window.
“All the lights in the house were on,” she said. “We could see one person in a second floor room. He appeared to be just sitting there. That was the only real activity inside the house.”
Santos surrendered to police at 11:30 p.m. Nobody was injured.
‘THEY ARE WELL BEHAVED’
Beeler said Sigma Nu fraternity members come into the restaurant often and do not cause problems.
“They are well behaved. They tip well,” she said. Beeler said she doesn’t recall any incident that evening in which a patron became agitated.
The incident occurred a day after the shooting death of a student at Purdue University. A USM official had been interviewed earlier in the day about the school’s preparedness in case of such an emergency.
Santos has been charged with criminal threatening with a firearm, reckless conduct with a firearm and terrorizing, all Class C felonies, according to Sanborn. Santos also was charged with the civil infraction of creating a police standoff. Sanborn said he doesn’t expect Santos to face additional charges.
Santos has no criminal history in Maine, according to the State Bureau of Identification, and none in Massachusetts, according to the Criminal Justice Information Service.
The fraternity is the local chapter of the national Sigma Nu organization, headquartered in Lexington, Va., and founded in 1869 at the Virginia Military Institute.
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click image to enlarge
The Sigma Nu fraternity house at 24 School St. in Gorham was searched by police on Thursday, following a four-hour standoff with a University of Southern Maine student Wednesday night.
John Patriquin/Staff Photographer