ROCKLAND — A 67-year-old Rockland man who shot and wounded an intruder in his home two months ago is suing the apartment complex where he lives, contending its policy that he not possess guns violates his constitutional rights.

Harvey Lembo names Park Place Associates and Stanford Management LLC as plaintiffs, and is seeking a permanent injunction prohibiting the complex from evicting him on the grounds that he owns a firearm. In the action filed Monday, he is also asking that his attorney fees be covered.

Lembo, a retired fisherman and former volunteer police officer, will not be charged for shooting Christopher Wildhaber, 45, on Sept. 1, according to the civil action.

The National Rifle Association applauded the lawsuit, which contends the landlord interfered with Lembo’s constitutional right to bear arms and violated the Maine Civil Rights Act, the Associated Press reported.

“Threatening to evict Mr. Lembo for defending himself clearly violates his constitutional rights,” said John Hohenwarter, an NRA Maine state liaison. “Self-defense is a fundamental, God-given right that belongs to every law-abiding American – no matter their tax bracket, ZIP code or street address.”

In an account to The Courier-Gazette shortly after the incident, Lembo said he went out to the living room of his apartment and found a man going through his medications.

Lembo said he pointed his gun at the intruder and ordered him to sit on the coffee table, which the man did. While holding Wildhaber at gunpoint, Lembo dialed 911.

Wildhaber then bolted toward the door, and Lembo shot him in the shoulder while he was still talking on the phone with the 911 operator.

Wildhaber told Lembo he was robbing him of prescription medications “like everybody else,” according to both the criminal and civil complaints. Wildhaber has been charged with burglary, criminal trespass, stealing drugs and refusing to submit to arrest. He remains at the Knox County Jail on $25,000 cash bail while the case is pending.

Lembo has what he described as debilitating medical ailments, including degenerative heart disease, and has survived three heart attacks. He uses a motorized wheelchair and says burglaries are common at the complex.

Lembo said he has been a victim of burglary five times in the last six years. He said the continued robberies made him afraid, and that he felt like a target. He bought a gun the day before the shooting to protect himself because his physical disabilities make it difficult to deter criminals, the lawsuit says.

Lembo’s lease does not restrict firearms, but it does contain a provision that requires compliance with house rules, including that residents not possess firearms or ammunition. Lembo said he was threatened with eviction after the robbery if he did not give up his weapon. Lembo says he fears he is a target for criminals, and that he cannot move because there is limited subsidized housing in the area, according to the lawsuit.

Lembo is represented by attorneys Patrick Strawbridge of Boston and David H. Thompson of Washington, D.C.

A message seeking comment for the management office of Stanford Management LLC was not immediately returned.

Juliette Laaka can be contacted at 594-4401 ext. 118 or at:

[email protected]


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