GORHAM – As charges are expected to be filed against a Gorham juvenile suspected of attempted arson, the owner of the home where the youth was shot has been replaced as coach of a football team.

The move comes just before the team’s season opens and less than three weeks after the incident, which involved the shooting of a masked juvenile during what police say was an attempted arson at a Gorham home.

The Gorham Police Department is expecting the Cumberland County district attorney to charge the juvenile suspect, who is still hospitalized, with attempted arson. Meanwhile, the investigation of the shooter continues. Police have not released names of any individuals involved.

No one from the district attorney’s office returned a call for comment.

Police said the incident at 11:45 p.m. on July 13 occurred at 8 Mountview Drive, which is, according to Gorham tax records, the property of Craig and Tracey Bassingthwaite. He had been the head coach of the Gorham Grizzlies.

However, a substitute coach was to be in charge when the team was to commence its first practice at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 1. The change was announced this week by the Gorham Football Boosters, which sponsors the team of middle-school-aged players. The change has upset a number of parents and players. The Gorham Grizzlies open their season in less than a month.

According to Gorham police in a July 14 report, “a homeowner and a witness interrupted the arson and attempted to detain the suspect. Shots were fired and the 14-year Gorham juvenile was shot and injured.”

The boy was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland.

Detective Sgt. Dana Thompson of the Gorham Police Department said the boy was still hospitalized Tuesday.

Craig Bassingthwaite had been the volunteer coach of the Gorham Grizzlies for three years.

“Craig has been placed on a leave of absence pending the ongoing investigation into the incident at Craig’s home earlier this month,” Walter McKee of Augusta, Bassingthwaite’s attorney, said in an email Tuesday.

“While Craig doesn’t believe a leave of absence is necessary, he certainly understands the need for people to be cautious. Craig is looking forward to the completion of the investigation and return to coaching very soon.”

McKee responded to a request for comments from Bassingthwaite, saying, “As you might expect, Craig can’t speak about anything right now.”

Thompson said the criminal case against the juvenile had been forwarded to the district attorney’s office, “and we expect him to be charged with attempted arson. When those charges will be brought depends on a number of factors, to include his medical needs and potential safety issues to the community,” Thompson said.

“Included in the process are decisions, ultimately decided by a judge, regarding his placement either in a monitored environment or a juvenile facility,” he said. “Ultimately, a judge will hear arguments from the district attorney’s office and the juvenile’s defense attorney, review the juvenile corrections officer’s evaluation(s) and decide the young man’s immediate placement.”

Thompson said the investigation into the shooting itself is still ongoing.

“Once we have completed it,” he said, “we will review the case with the district attorney’s office in order to determine if charges should be filed against the shooter. Both the homeowner and the suspect’s actions will be scrutinized in order to determine if the homeowner was justified to use deadly force in this case.”

Thompson said the juvenile was wearing a full face mask and completely disguised at the time of the shooting/attempted arson. He said the weapon used was a 12-gauge shotgun.

Police said the home was slightly damaged.

Gregory Yahm, president of Gorham Football Boosters’ board of directors, confirmed Tuesday that there was an interim coach in place, but he declined to release further details or comments about the matter. Yahm did say Bassingwaite had been the Grizzlies’ coach for three years.

A football boosters’ email last week to parents indicated the boosters’ board favored Bassingthwaite take a leave of absence. But some parents are critical of that decision.

“It’s irresponsible of the board to ask him to step down until the investigation is over,” Ron Smith, a parent of a Grizzlies’ player, said Tuesday. “It’s not right to treat a man this way.”

Smith said Joe Hansen, coach of the Junior Grizzlies, has been named the Grizzlies interim coach.

Smith and another parent, Bruce Hepler, defended their sons’ coach.

“He hasn’t been accused of doing anything wrong,” Hepler said.

The team’s first game against York is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 26. Hepler said it’s “a shame” the kids are losing their coach.

“My son is upset about it,” Heppler said.

Heppler and Smith both extolled Bassingthwaite’s work with the town’s youth.

“He’s a terrific coach, a good role model for the boys,” Heppler said.

Smith agreed.

“He’s a good coach,” Smith said, “My son loves the guy.”

Members of the boosters’ board were likely to field questions at a scheduled football parents’ meeting that was to be held at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at the practice, after the American Journal’s deadine.

Authorities say this home at 8 Mountview Drive in Gorham was targeted by a fully masked teen arsonist, who was shot by the homeowner. The case is still under investigation, though charges against the juvenile are expected.   

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