June 13, 2013

State Police say shot West Paris teen had stolen rifle

Grandmother clames James Reynolds was carrying walking stick; police say guns, beer burglarized from neighbor found on shot 18-year-old

By Matt Byrne mbyrne@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WEST PARIS -- An 18-year-old who was shot by a state trooper Saturday night was carrying a walking stick -- not a rifle -- when he left his home, his grandmother said.

But a resident of Roy Road near the site of the shooting said his home was burglarized and two rifles and some beer were stolen the same night, items that police say were found on James Reynolds.

Eleanor Paine, 77, the grandmother of Reynolds, who was shot in the head, left arm and leg, said Reynolds often carried his grandfather's walking stick when he traipsed through the woods.

"He had nothing to do with guns," Paine said at her home Monday. "There are no guns here."

"We're waiting for James to live or die," Paine said. "If he walks out of there, he'll never be the same person," she said.

After the shooting, police said they found Reynolds with items allegedly stolen from the nearby seasonal residence owned by Charles Coughlin, of Franklin, Mass., including a rifle and ammunition. The log cabin's front window was smashed.

"The weapon (Reynolds) was in possession of at the time of the interaction with our trooper was found to be stolen from the residence," said Sgt. Michael Edes, supervisor of Trooper Jason Wing. Wing is on paid administrative leave while the state Attorney General's Office investigates whether his use of deadly force was justified. The second rifle apparently was moved inside the residence but not taken from it, Edes said.

The gun found with Reynolds was a lever action high-powered hunting rifle with a scope.

In an interview, Coughlin said both guns were hidden and had trigger locks on them. He said Saturday's burglary was the sixth time someone had broken into his home, and the second time that a firearm was stolen. In the earlier gun theft, a rifle that was taken was recovered later by sheriff's deputies and returned.

Edes said after the Saturday night encounter, Coughlin said he'd left four Budweiser Light cans in his refrigerator. Reynolds was found with four Budweiser Lights, still cold, in his backpack, said Edes, who was authorized to speak only about the alleged burglary.

Paine wouldn't comment when asked whether her grandson had a history with the police.

Coughlin said after the second burglary, when alcohol was stolen, Reynolds' mother, Julie Reynolds, said she'd pay restitution for the damage; but Coughlin said she never paid.

Police originally were called to Roy Road, which is near Route 219, about 6:15 p.m. about a report of a suspicious person. According to Edes, one of the neighbors had recognized Reynolds and called others in the neighborhood and police to alert them to his presence, since they did not believe he had any business being on the private road.

Wing was dispatched to investigate the report and arrived about 15 minutes later. Police would not comment on the shooting, but a police spokesman reaffirmed that Reynolds was carrying a hunting rifle when Wing encountered him.

Meanwhile, Paine, Julie Reynolds, and other family members wait to hear if the teen's condition improves.

"He underwent brain surgery Saturday night, and he's on life support. They gave him more surgery on his arm today," Paine said.

Paine said her grandson was hospitalized recently for an extended period of time to treat an anxiety disorder and was released in March. He dropped out of Oxford Hills High School in 2006, when he was in the ninth grade. Had he stayed in high school, Reynolds would have been receiving his diploma about the time he was shot.

Hospital officials at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where Reynolds was taken, said his condition was upgraded to serious Monday from critical on Sunday. However, Paine said Monday he had been downgraded again to critical.

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