A Norridgewock man was arrested after sparking a tense police standoff Wednesday night by allegedly suggesting he would commit suicide by cop and then threatening people with a loaded handgun at a local convenience store.

No one was injured during the incident and Donald L. Bessey, 66, was ultimately subdued by police with a stun gun and charged with criminal threatening with a firearm. He was taken to the Somerset County Jail in East Madison, where his arrest entry indicates he also refused to sign a criminal summons.

The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office described the standoff as a “very scary situation” and “one of the more intense” such incidents authorities have encountered.

The incident began Wednesday at 8:24 p.m. Bessey, who lives on Smithfield Road, called police dispatch, according to a news release Thursday morning from the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office. Bessey told a dispatcher that he wanted police to come to his house “because when they arrived he was going to shoot them” and “that he wanted law enforcement to then kill him,” and then hung up, according to the release.

When a dispatcher called back, a female family member said Bessey had been drinking and was outside the home with a handgun.

Authorities, including Somerset County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Maine State Police and Fairfield police officers, responded. A state police negotiator contacted Bessey by phone but “Bessey did not cooperate and ultimately terminated the call,” the release said.


At about the same time, a 911 call was placed from the Cumberland Farms at 3 Waterville Road in Norridgewock, where a man later identified as Bessey had entered the store with a gun and was ordering customers out, saying police were looking for him. Bessey also grabbed a bottle of liquor and started drinking, police said.

A store clerk locked herself in a bathroom during the incident, called her father and said “she thought she was going to die,” according to the release.

Two Maine State Police officers arrived at the Cumberland Farms and convinced Bessey to come outside, according to the release. Bessey, armed with a loaded handgun, refused to drop his gun and “continued to threaten to kill the officers either by shooting them or running them over in his truck,” according to the release. Police cordoned off the area near the intersection of U.S. Routes 2 and 139, and started evacuating nearby homes.

As police talked to Bessey, Cpl. Gene Cole of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office got behind him and subdued him with a Taser.

Ross said Bessey was still being held Thursday morning but was uncooperative and refused to allow a booking photo to be taken.

Bessey’s bail has been set at $50,000 cash, and his initial court appearance was scheduled for Friday morning.

Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: @colinoellis

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