AUBURN — A 21-year-old Auburn man was arrested and charged with murder Wednesday in the death of a Turner man who was shot in the parking lot of the Auburn Walmart on Saturday.

Police arrested Gage Dalphonse in the death of Jean Fournier, 41, at about 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Investigators said an autopsy confirmed Fournier died of gunshot wounds.

Dalphonse was taken to the Androscoggin County Jail in Auburn and was being held without bail. He was expected to make an initial court appearance Friday morning.

Police confirmed Wednesday that the shooting was not a random attack and that Fournier was not armed when he was shot. He died a short time later at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.

Police did not provide details of what led to the shooting, but Fournier’s girlfriend said in an interview Wednesday that the conflict that spurred the shooting began at a nursing home where she, Dalphonse and his girlfriend used to work. Tara Nguyen said the shooting occurred after a chance encounter in the parking lot that escalated when Dalphonse called her a name and Fournier came to her defense.

Gage Dalphonse Photo courtesy of Androscoggin County Jail

Nguyen, 38, said she took a job as a kitchen helper at Clover Manor in Auburn early this year. Nguyen said Dalphonse also worked at Clover Manor, in a different part of the facility, as did Dalphonse’s girlfriend, who worked with Nguyen in the kitchen.

Nguyen said Dalphonse’s girlfriend was hostile to her from the start, and began complaining about her work ethic to Nguyen’s manager.

The drama was unexpected, Nguyen said. She’d never met Dalphonse or his girlfriend before, and the dispute came to a head a month later when Dalphonse’s girlfriend was asked to resign because of the fighting.

Dalphonse still worked at the nursing home for about another month, and one day in May, Dalphonse approached Nguyen and threatened to “drop kick” her if she was mean to the nursing home residents, Nguyen said, noting it was one of the few times she talked to Dalphonse.

Nguyen said she did not see Dalphonse working at the nursing home after that, assuming he either quit or was fired. Nguyen left the nursing home in June and took another job.

The confrontation Saturday occurred after Fournier, Nguyen and a group of family and friends returned from a day at the beach and went to Walmart to pick up groceries and food for grilling.

They were walking back to their car when Nguyen said she saw Dalphonse driving toward them in the parking lot. His windows were down and he had a friend in the front seat.

Jean Fournier, 41, of Turner died Saturday night after being shot in the parking lot of the Walmart in Auburn.

Nguyen said Dalphonse cursed at her as he passed. Nguyen’s niece took offense and told Dalphonse to apologize, but Dalphonse refused and cursed at her, too.

Fournier was a few steps behind them and took notice, Nguyen said.

“That pissed Jean off right there, but Jean’s a problem-solver, not a problem-maker,” Nguyen said.

As Nguyen and some of the other people in their group loaded groceries, Jean went to talk to Dalphonse, who was parked with the windows down. Nguyen said she watched as Fournier and a friend spoke with Dalphonse through his open window.

Although she could not hear their conversation, Nguyen said she watched from a short distance and said that throughout the conversation, Dalphonse was seated in the car with his driver’s door closed and Fournier was outside the vehicle.

Fournier attempted to get Dalphonse to apologize, but Dalphonse refused. Nguyen said the friend who accompanied Fournier later told her about the conversation.

Contrary to some witness reports, Nguyen said there was no fistfight, and the men never became physical with each other.

Nguyen said that when Fournier turned to leave Dalphonse got out of his car and took out a gun. Nguyen said she remembers Fournier yelling that Dalphonse had a gun.

Then Dalphonse fired, Nguyen said.

“Jean walked off, and Gage got out and shot him,” Nguyen said. “He fell so hard. He broke his nose.”

After the shooting, Dalphonse approached Fournier and stood at his feet, Nguyen said, with the gun in his hand pointed toward the pavement.

She tried to get close to help Fournier, but she wasn’t sure what Dalphonse planned to do and she kept running back out of fear.

“I kept yelling at my niece to call 911,” Nguyen said. “I kept yelling for someone to help him.”

She watched as Dalphonse reached down and pulled Fournier’s shirt up to see the wounds. Dalphonse took his shirt off to apply pressure to one of the wounds, Nguyen said.

An undercover police officer intervened and took Dalphonse’s gun and sat Dalphonse down on the curb away from Fournier, Nguyen said.

Nguyen said she ran to Fournier and took off a dress she had put on over her bathing suit and used it to apply pressure to his wounds.

Nguyen said she’s dealt with a rash of abuse and rumors online since the shooting, with people blaming her or saying she bore responsibility. She hopes that telling her side of the story will quiet the rumors and give a clearer picture of what happened.

“Jean did not deserve to die,” she said.

Fournier was convicted of several felonies between 1996 and 2000, including robbery, drug trafficking and burglary, but had not been convicted of a crime since 2005.

Dalphonse’s criminal history was limited to charges of assault and reckless conduct, both filed in the summer of 2018. The assault charge was dismissed after Dalphonse pleaded guilty to the reckless conduct charge. He was found guilty of that charge in February and ordered to pay a $300 fine.

Neither charge was a felony that would have prohibited Dalphonse from carrying a firearm.

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