GREENVILLE — The two friends grew up together in this small community at the southern end of Moosehead Lake. Both were from middle class, well-regarded families. Both were high school athletes and honor students.

Troy McVey and Colby Kronholm left Maine last summer to drive cross-country, settle in California and start fresh.

Their adventure ended abruptly just months later.

The two young men now sit in jail more than 3,000 miles from home, accused of gunning down a homeless man on a busy street in Hollywood on Jan. 4.

The seemingly cold-blooded killing in the celebrity capital of the world stands in stark contrast with their rural upbringing and their personalities, according to friends.

Though each had minor brushes with the law in Maine after high school and appeared to be struggling financially since they moved to California last fall, nothing in their histories hinted at possible violence.

Residents in Greenville were predictably shocked that two of their own could be mixed up in a homicide, but also were protective of the two young men, out of respect for their families.

“This is a small town. Everyone knows everybody,” Town Manager John Simko said last week from his office. “I think people are feeling for these families and trying to be as supportive as they can.”

Simko also said that because the crime happened so far away, townspeople are left feeling like they don’t know the whole story.

A Los Angeles police detective acknowledged that a motive is still unclear.

An off-duty police officer told investigators he saw the two young men smash the windows of several parked cars in the area of Hollywood and North Cahuenga boulevards just before midnight Jan. 4 and then saw McVey shoot a man on the street multiple times. Several others witnessed the shooting as well.

Richard Joseph Miller, believed to be homeless, later died at a local hospital. He was 52.

Just before shots were fired, one of the men involved was heard saying “give me my money,” according to the Los Angeles police detective, who said the killing may have been drug-related.

“We don’t know how they might have been connected at this point,” said Detective Scott Masterson.

McVey, 22, and Kronholm, 21, have been held on $1 million cash bail each since their arrest.

They are scheduled to be arraigned on murder charges Wednesday.

QUIET CHILDHOODS IN THE WOODS

Greenville, a town of about 1,600 residents in Piscataquis County, is often called the “gateway” to the North Woods, a rugged area of Maine wilderness that attracts visitors to hiking, skiing, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling and other outdoor activities.

McVey and Kronholm grew up in families with deep roots in Greenville.

McVey’s mother, Kelly MacFadyen, is principal of the high school and his stepfather, Daniel MacFadyen, is an engineer and former manager at Big Squaw Mountain, a nearby ski resort.

Kronholm’s mother, Alicia, is the branch manager of a local bank and his father, Boyd, is the deputy superintendent of the youth prison in Charleston, about an hour south of Greenville.

McVey, who has an older brother and sister and a younger stepbrother from his mother’s second marriage, played soccer and was on the ski team in high school.

Kronholm, the oldest of three children, also played soccer and ran track. He still holds a school record in the 1,600-meter, set in 2009.

Billy LaPointe, who went to school with both and still lives in town, said neither was known as a troublemaker.

“They were always good guys,” LaPointe said last week at Morrell’s Hardware, where he is a clerk. “Colby, in particular, I just can’t see him hurting anyone. That’s not who he was at all.”

Craig Watt, whose family owns Indian Hill Trading Post, one of Greenville’s major retailers, said Kronholm – like many other local teens – worked for him in high school.

“He was a great employee. A hard worker,” Watt said.

Townspeople were more reluctant to talk about McVey, in part, they said, because of his mother’s high-profile job.

A classmate who asked not to be identified said she remembers McVey spending most of his free time on the ski slopes.

MINOR RUN-INS WITH THE LAW

McVey graduated from high school in 2010 and enrolled at Maine Maritime Academy, where his stepfather is an alumnus.

Maine Maritime officials confirmed that McVey was enrolled as a student in the fall of 2010 but was not enrolled again until the fall of 2012. After that, he was “separated from the academy.”

Asked to explain, Jennifer DeJoy, the school’s director of college relations, said, “Federal education law does not permit us to speak to a student’s academic or disciplinary record.”

In the summer of 2010, not long after he graduated from high school, McVey was caught lighting a puddle of gas on fire in a Greenville parking lot. He was ordered to pay for the damage.

In December 2010, McVey was driving through Old Town with three others at about 2 a.m. when an officer stopped him for speeding.

The officer suspected McVey had been drinking and saw alcohol in the vehicle, according to a police report.

McVey failed field sobriety tests but refused to take a blood alcohol test, the report said. He also resisted when an officer tried to arrest him. The officer had to put McVey on the ground and hold him there, according to the report.

He was never charged with drunken driving. He pleaded guilty in April 2011 to refusing to submit to arrest and paid a $300 fine.

Later that year, he violated conditions of his release and was caught driving with a suspended or revoked license. He spent five days in jail.

Kronholm graduated from Greenville High School in 2011 and moved shortly thereafter to Bangor, the closest city to Greenville, about 90 minutes southeast.

He got a job with a food services company and worked for more than two years in the kitchen of a nursing home in Bangor.

Laura Lyons worked there, too, and became close friends with Kronholm.

“He was just really laid back and fun,” she said.

Courtney Lorrain, who also worked with Kronholm, said he genuinely cared about people.

Like McVey, though, Kronholm developed a minor criminal history after high school.

In July 2011, he was caught trying to steal two bottles of cough medicine from a Rite Aid pharmacy. He spent 24 hours in jail.

And last year in Bangor, he was picked up for shoplifting dozens of packets of flower seeds at Wal-Mart, according to police. He was fined $250.

A TRIP ACROSS THE COUNTRY

According to friends, McVey and Kronholm were both itching to get out of Maine.

After a two-year hiatus from college in Maine, McVey had recently enrolled at California Maritime Academy in Vallejo and was set to start classes in September.

Kronholm didn’t have a job or school lined up but didn’t have anything tying him down in Maine either. He had been working in the kitchen of the nursing home in Bangor but was always up for an adventure, according to friends.

Their cross-country trip included frequent sightseeing stops along the way; McVey posted pictures on his Facebook page of himself at the Grand Canyon and other scenic places.

In September, they arrived in Vallejo, on the eastern edge of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Although they loved the outdoor lifestyle northern California afforded them, the friends struggled. Lorrain said the two were basically homeless. They had been living out of a tent on federal land but were asked to leave sometime last fall.

They stayed in San Francisco for a while and started traveling south toward Los Angeles. McVey was charged with driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance sometime in the fall, according to police.

It’s not clear if McVey had dropped out of school. Cal Maritime officials would only confirm that he had been enrolled at the start of the fall semester.

By the time the two got to LA, they were living out of McVey’s car, according to Lorrain.

Masterson, the LA police detective, confirmed that when police impounded the car, which was parked about a block from the shooting, it was filled with clothes and other personal items. The detective also said neither man had a current address.

Lyons said Kronholm told her he wanted to move back to Greenville to “live off the land.”

Added Lorrain: “Colby was homesick. He was supposed to come back to Maine for Christmas.”

Neither knew why Kronholm and McVey were in Los Angeles. They didn’t think either had family or friends there.

On Jan. 4, just after 10:30 p.m., Lorrain received a lengthy text message from her friend.

“I’m hanging around (Southern California) now. It’s unbelievably beautiful. I can hang out at the beach shirtless and still be an hour away from cliffs to climb with snow at the top,” Kronholm wrote.

In the span of a couple of weeks, he had visited Sequoia National Park, Death Valley and Las Vegas.

“I wish more than anything I could show you,” his message read.

“Sounds like you’re having the time of your life,” Lorrain replied.

Only hours later, Kronholm would be in police custody.

A VIOLENT END

The Jan. 4 shooting in downtown Hollywood was brazen, even by LA standards, according to Masterson.

The area where the shooting occurred, the 1600 block of North Cahuenga Boulevard near the intersection with Hollywood Boulevard, is a busy, tourist-heavy spot just blocks from the landmark known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre and the Dolby Theatre, which hosts the Academy Awards.

Masterson said the shooting stood out because it took place in front of so many witnesses.

Two of them spoke with KTLA, an LA television station, the next day.

Danielle Pace said she heard two gunshots, followed by several more.

“I heard somebody scream, ‘Give me my money,’ ” Pace told the TV station.

Taylor Dawson told KTLA he was finishing up a shift at 3Dog Cantina, a restaurant in the area, when he saw shots fired.

“It just struck us out of nowhere. … It was just all of a sudden. We watched a guy shoot a man,” he said.

Kronholm and McVey were arrested about a block from the shooting. They didn’t try to run. McVey tossed the gun underneath a parked vehicle, Masterson said, but it was recovered.

Masterson said the suspected murder weapon, a .22-caliber handgun, was registered to McVey and was purchased legally in November near Vallejo.

The detective said neither answered questions after the arrests.

“They both asked for a lawyer,” he said.

Kronholm is being held at North County Correctional Facility in Castaic, north of LA. McVey is at Twin Towers Correctional Facility, in the heart of the city.

If convicted, they each face 25 years to life in prison.

A ‘LOOSE CANNON’

Lorrain and Lyons said they take comfort somewhat in the fact that Kronholm was not the one with the gun.

Both said McVey had a reputation as a “loose cannon,” but they admitted they didn’t really know him.

A former classmate of McVey at Maine Maritime who went on an annual training cruise with him said he had a “bit of a temper, but seemed harmless.”

Family members of Kronholm and McVey declined to comment for this story.

Lorrain said she has been in regular contact with Kronholm’s sister, who still attends Greenville High School, since his arrest.

“They are all pretty upset,” Lorrain said.

Lyons has spoken with Kronholm’s mother.

“They are worried about him,” she said. “They said it feels like a bad dream.”

One of the hardest things, she said, is not being able to visit or even call.

She has written letters, though.

“I told him everyone back here is on his side,” Lyons said. “I can’t imagine how he must be feeling.”

Lorrain said she doesn’t believe Kron- holm or McVey was mixed up in anything dangerous out West, but she doesn’t know for sure.

Asked about McVey’s gun, she said she thinks it was probably purchased for protection because they were living out of a car.

“I’m sure (the shooting) could have been about drugs or money,” she said. “They might have been desperate.”

Still, she can’t stop thinking about Kron- holm’s text message just hours before the shooting and about how carefree he seemed.

“I hope he comes through this and comes back home,” Lorrain said. “He’s still so young and has a whole life ahead of him.”