The parents of the 19-year-old killed in a flurry of gunfire late Monday night in Portland’s Old Port said their son was a bystander in a confrontation that did not involve him.

Nancy and Don Laxson, Treyjon Arsenault’s parents, said police told them that their son was not being targeted when one or more people began firing inside Da Block Studios Inc., an independent recording studio on Market Street.

Arsenault and a 20-year-old Portland man were shot, police said. Arsenault was pronounced dead at Maine Medical Center.

“The detective said he was just an innocent person at the wrong place,” Nancy Laxson said. “He got caught in the crossfire.”

Police would not confirm that Arsenault was a bystander, and have not identified a motive for the shooting. Police say they are seeking “at least two” shooters, who remain at large.

People have called police with tips, and investigators interviewed several people Tuesday and planned to do more interviews Wednesday, said acting Police Chief Vern Malloch.

Police have not released the name of the second shooting victim out of concern for his safety while the shooters remain at large. They did say he remained hospitalized, but would not say whether police officers were guarding him.

Police responded to the shooting at the studio, which occupies the third floor of the building at the corner of Market and Fore streets, at 11:58 p.m. Monday.

After the scene was secured and the victims were taken away by ambulance, police had to prepare a request for a search warrant because studio owner Ron Hargrove did not immediately allow officers to search the premises, saying he was in contact with his lawyer.

“He did not allow us entry. A court order allowed us entry,” Malloch said.

Evidence technicians returned to the scene Wednesday, hauling equipment up to the studio.

Arsenault’s car, a gray Toyota Corolla registered to his mother, was still parked in front of 26 Market St. A sprig of rhododendron had been placed on the windshield along with a parking ticket, which parking enforcement staff had removed by Wednesday afternoon. Some laundry and a basketball shoe could be seen stuffed on the shelf behind the back seat, with an empty soda cup between the seats and a few other cups on the floor. A crucifix hung from the rearview mirror.

ARSENAULT HAD ‘A BRIGHT FUTURE’

The Laxsons – Don Laxson is Arsenault’s stepfather – said they did not know their son was planning to go to the studio Monday night and learned from detectives that he was there to hear a woman record a song. When police arrived at their home about 5 a.m. Tuesday, Nancy Laxson thought her son was already home.

Detectives told her he was involved in the shooting and didn’t survive after being rushed into surgery at Maine Med.

The Scarborough family is in shock and struggling to make sense of the loss of their oldest son, who graduated from Westbrook High School in 2014 with plans to pursue football in college.

A natural athlete, Arsenault played several sports throughout his life, and seemed to excel at all of them, his parents said. As Nancy Laxson spoke, she thumbed through a stack of athletic awards and other memorabilia spread out on the family’s dining room table – reminders of the potential that coaches, friends and teachers saw in him.

His scholastic athletic career began at Cheverus High School, which Arsenault attended as a freshman.

“He missed all his friends from Westbrook,” Nancy Laxson said.

Arsenault, whom everyone called Trey, played varsity football at Westbrook for three years and was named all-conference his senior year. Several Division III colleges were interested in recruiting him, but a nagging shoulder injury that required surgery left him unable to play and changed his plans. At the last minute, Arsenault chose Saint Leo’s University in Tampa, Florida. He didn’t play football there and returned to Maine after one semester, unhappy and homesick.

Arsenault lived at home and worked at a restaurant while he evaluated his options, planning how to get back into the classroom, and possibly back onto the football field.

On the night of his shooting, Nancy Laxson, a nursing care manager at Maine Med, was at work, but had been texting with her son throughout the evening. Arsenault had sent her a message about sitting down soon to talk about how to move forward with his education. He had recently begun to contemplate studying marine engineering, she said.

“He had such a bright future,” she said. “He was going to be something so special.”

STILL SEEKING SHOOTING MOTIVE

Westbrook Police Chief Janine Roberts said a vigil Tuesday night for Arsenault took place without problems, even though some people attending it openly carried firearms. Others at the vigil vowed to retaliate against those who had shot Arsenault.

Roberts said she has received no information from Portland police regarding any threats or safety concerns related to Westbrook that might cause her to alter her patrol strategy.

“The officers are aware of the incident and the heightened emotions from Treyjon’s friends, family and loved ones. (The officers) are operating more with a sense of empathy as well as alertness,” Roberts said.

Portland police are not beefing up patrols in the Old Port in response to the homicide, as they would if there were concerns about rival groups and retaliation.

“In Maine, we don’t have a gang problem like some cities do,” Malloch said.

Police have increased activity in the Parkside area, where three armed robberies – two against people in their cars and a third at a credit union – occurred within 24 hours.

Malloch said the shooting was not connected to a drug raid conducted Tuesday morning by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Portland police special reaction team at 592 Washington Ave. Police had planned for days to execute a high-risk search warrant there. They discussed postponing the raid because the shooting was straining the department’s resources, but opted to go ahead.

Police wanted to conduct the raid while Presumpscot School was in session, to reduce the likelihood there would be children in the neighborhood.

“We felt like it was critical we do that,” Malloch said.

Police did tow a car from Market Street in the Old Port that was also noted in the search warrant for the Washington Avenue drug raid, but Malloch said that appeared to be a coincidence.

Police know of no connection between the shooting and the drug raid, although Malloch said he knew there was speculation in the community that the two were related.

Malloch said there also is no information to suggest the shooting is related to gang activity or connected to organized criminal groups.

“We’re still investigating to determine a motive,” he said.

He also reiterated that there were only two victims in the incident, despite speculation that a third person had been stabbed.

‘DOESN’T HAPPEN VERY OFTEN HERE’

Chelsy Sewell works in an Old Port hair salon and learned of the shooting from a customer.

“I know some of the people working in my hair salon and some people getting their hair done were upset,” said Sewell, adding that she wasn’t rattled by the shooting.

Jack Van Sambeek and Cece Wilkens have been vacationing in Maine for three weeks and learned about the shooting from a bartender at a Wharf Street wine bar.

“I was surprised. I said, ‘I bet this doesn’t happen very often here.’ He said, ‘It doesn’t. That’s why this is bad,'” Wilkens said.

Donald Goodwin, who works in downtown Portland, glanced up at the third floor of the red-brick building where the shooting took place and said he was saddened by Arsenault’s death, but doesn’t feel less safe in the Old Port.

“Things happen, unfortunately. I don’t like it and I don’t want it around here,” he said, adding, “It doesn’t make me feel any different.”

However, Patti Lawson, of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, changed her plans because of the violence.

“I was kind of shocked. I’m from Philly originally so this is nothing, but here in Maine, this is shocking to see a crime scene unit here in downtown Portland,” said Lawson, who lived in Maine in the 1990s and was visiting on business.

She had planned to have dinner out, but instead decided to have lunch outside and eat dinner in her hotel.

“This really is unnerving,” she said.


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