Three Somerset County sheriff’s deputies involved in the July 5 shooting death of a gunman who had already killed three people and wounded a fourth on Russell Road in Madison returned to work Monday following a briefing summary of the shooting from the Office of the Maine Attorney General.

Somerset County Sheriff Dale Lancaster said he had cleared the men to return to duty after reading the summary, which also contained results of psychological examinations on the three officers: Chief Deputy James Ross; his son, Detective Michael Ross; and Deputy Joseph Jackson. The Office of the Maine Attorney General is investigating the officer-involved shooting, as is protocol in Maine. The deputies were placed on paid administrative leave until Monday.

The men shot and killed Carroll Tuttle Jr. after being fired upon.

Lancaster said the Attorney General’s investigation is ongoing, but a preliminary report prepared for him allowed him to make the decision to put the men back on the road. Results of the full investigation by the Attorney General’s Office on the use of deadly force will come later.

There also will be an internal investigation by the Sheriff’s Office on the use of deadly force, Lancaster said.

Lancaster said that when Carroll Tuttle Jr. pulled into the driveway of 316 Russell Road in Madison he started shooting and struck “a private citizen” several times.

“The deputies involved reacted and returned fire,” Lancaster said by phone Monday. “It’s my opinion that their actions saved a private citizen’s life. Chief Deputy Ross, Detective Ross and Patrol Deputy Jackson have all been cleared by a licensed psychologist to return to and resume their daily work.

“It is my opinion that the deputies acted within the guideline of their statutory authority, which is a separate decision that the Attorney General’s Office has to make later on. I authorized (them) to return to work on July 31, which is today.”

The private citizen mentioned by the sheriff was Harvey Austin, 57, of Skowhegan, who survived the shooting.

Tuttle Jr., 51, already had shot and killed 53-year-old Lori Hayden, and their son, 26-year-old Dustin Tuttle, at their home at 316 Russell Road, according to police.

Police said Tuttle Jr. then shot and killed Mike R. Spaulding, 57, at his home at 299 Russell Road up the road, before returning to the area of his home and shooting and wounding Austin. The deputies from the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office who had gone to the area then shot and killed Tuttle Jr. in his driveway.

Neighbors said Tuttle Jr. was acting on the false belief that Hayden was having an affair.

The Madison killings also have underscored Maine’s long-standing problem of domestic violence, which is linked to about half of the homicides in the state. Attorney General Janet Mills said that last year, 7 out of 16 homicide victims lost their lives as a result of domestic violence.

Lancaster said he cannot share the results of the briefing summary, which was laid out in a chronological time line compiled by lead investigator Peter Lizanecz of the Maine Attorney General’s Office. He said the psychological exams are an important part of any police event involving possible post traumatic stress.

“That is standard protocol in all police shootings,” he said. “We want to make sure that our officers are healthy to return to work. Anyone who has dealt with these types of cases — from the reporter to the first responders — it all adds up.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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