December 6, 2012

Officials link Waterville shooting death, rowdyism

Waterville's mayor says she's "sick of it" and that nobody's putting the death in a bigger context.

By AMY CALDER Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE – City officials are decrying late-night vandalism and violence in downtown Waterville, including the shooting death of a man Tuesday.

click image to enlarge

Waterville Mayor Karen Heck

David Leaming / Staff Photographer

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Matthew Partridge, of Winslow, is led into District Court in Waterville on Wednesday for an initial appearance in the shooting death of Justin Smith, of China, in Waterville late Tuesday evening.

Staff photo by David Leaming

"I'm sick of it," Mayor Karen Heck said Thursday. "I'm sick of all of it and nobody's putting it in a bigger context. This is not an out-of-the-box tragedy. Really, it's something that we all have to take a responsibility for putting an end to."

In addition to the shooting, the city has been dealing with patrons fighting and breaking windows as they leave bars late at night. Heck said Thursday that people need to take a hard look at what's happening and what kind of community they want to create.

Justin V. Smith, 26, of China, was shot and killed late Tuesday at The Concourse downtown. His family declined to comment Thursday.

Matthew Partridge, 30, of China, reportedly shot Smith. He is charged with murder and on Thursday remained in the Kennebec County jail in Augusta.

The state Medical Examiner's Office reported Thursday that Smith died from a gunshot to the head, classifying the death as a homicide.

Partridge's court-appointed attorney, Pamela Ames of Waterville, said a bail hearing for Partridge is set for 1:30 p.m. Monday in Kennebec County Superior Court. According to an affidavit, police responded to the shooting after 11 p.m. Tuesday and found Smith lying face up on The Concourse. "Smith was bleeding from an area around his eye and mouth," it says.

After the shooting, Partridge left in a pickup truck and later was stopped by a state police trooper in Smithfield.

Heck said there is a larger context in which the shooting happened and the issue must be addressed.

"It's not people killing people with knives; it's people killing people with guns," she said. "I think in this country, the (National Rifle Association) has been a front for gun manufacturers long enough, and people have to start understanding what the Second Amendment was truly written for."

She said the amendment that allows private gun ownership should help safeguard people in their homes, but gun use is going far beyond that.

Partridge's mother, Diana Michaud, said Wednesday that the shooting was out of character for her son, a veteran and former Marine who served in Iraq in 2005 and came home a different person. She said he no longer trusts people and is afraid of crowds.

Tuesday's shooting happened after Partridge and Smith left the You Know Whose Pub at The Concourse, according to police. Deputy police Chief Charles Rumsey said Thursday that he would not characterize the pub as a place that produces a high volume of calls to police.

"We have more calls for service and issues at other places in town," he said.

Police Chief Joseph Massey said the downtown area, particularly at night, poses a challenge for police, as many young people come to go to bars, drink too much and then get into fights and vandalize businesses.

Massey said police lack resources to put an officer near every bar, and there have been instances in which an officer has sat in an unmarked vehicle near a bar and seen a fight break out.

 

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Amy Calder can be contacted at 861-9247 or at:

acalder@centralmaine.com

 

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