Friday, April 18, 2014
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.
Paine lives next door to Reynolds and his mother in West Paris on Sumner Road, also known as Route 219. Reymolds was often at Paine's house when his mother was at work, she said. His parents divorced when he was less than 2 years old.
Paine said she last saw her grandson around 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
"He came over to my house to see if I had supper ready," she said.
She said there were no guns in either home, adding that Reynolds often liked to go for walks; and when he did, he carried a walking stick that his grandfather had made and given to him.
Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, when asked about the walking stick replied, "He (Reynolds) was armed with a hunting rifle."
William McKinley, the Portland attorney who represents members of the Maine State Troopers Association, said his client is cooperating with investigators.
"The officer involved does not have to present him or herself for an interview," said McKinley, who traveled to West Paris on Saturday night.
"Trooper Wing chose to present himself voluntarily for an interview," he said. "You can infer the obvious from that. Had he not felt confident in his decision-making, he would not have attended."
Typically, investigations into the use of deadly force can take as long as two months, said McCausland.
Paine said that Reynolds sometimes tested his limits.
"He tried to go back (to school) a couple of times, but it didn't work for him," she said.
Paine has no criminal history as an adult, but he did lose his license following a drunken-driving crash when he was 17, according to a state police report and the Secretary of State's Office.
According to the crash report, Reynolds was driving at 2:41 p.m. two days after his 17th birthday when the 2001 Pontiac he was driving went off Round the Pond Road in Norway.
The car was towed and he suffered minor injuries. A blood test was taken and the results are pending, according to the report, but drivers under 21 are not allowed to have any alcohol in their system and his license was suspended.
Paine said Reynolds enjoyed music and played guitar and video games. He also did some work at the West Paris animal shelter.
She said she didn't know why he was shot.
"I talked to the people with the state police, I talked to the state trooper. I don't know," she said.
According to documents provided by the attorney general's office, this is not Wing's first use of deadly force in the course of duty.
In 2008, his first year as a trooper, Wing fired three rounds from a rifle into an oncoming truck driven by a suspect whom police were pursuing. A report by the attorney general's office following the June 28, 2008, encounter found Wing was legally justified when he shot at the vehicle.
The suspect, then-51-year-old Lawrence Lapoint of Mexico, was believed to have been armed. Police were pursuing Lapoint following a report that he allegedly threatened to kill his domestic partner. No one was injured in that incident.
Wing graduated in 2003 from Lewiston High School and served two tours of duty in Iraq as a Marine.