AUGUSTA — A man who was allegedly armed with a knife and threatening other residents at the Bread of Life Shelter was shot and killed by police officers Wednesday night.

Killed in the incident was Dustin J. Paradis, 34, of Augusta, police said.

Augusta police said Thursday morning that Sgt. Christopher Blodgett and Officer Sabastian Guptill used deadly force against Paradis in the incident and that neither officer was injured. Police Chief Jared Mills said they both fired their guns during the incident.

The shooting occurred at 155 Hospital St., which is the location of Bread of Life Ministries’ emergency housing shelter for families and individuals. The shelter has 40 beds.

Mills said that Augusta officers responded to a 911 call from that address at approximately 6 p.m. Wednesday. The call was a report of a man armed with a knife and threatening other residents at that location.

Police arrived to find a male victim with injuries that were not considered life-threatening. Officers also almost immediately encountered Paradis inside the shelter, who they said was brandishing a knife.

“An armed confrontation ensued at that point,” Mills said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “As a result, unfortunately, 34-year-old Dustin Paradis of Augusta passed away at the scene.”

A man just off the shelter grounds Thursday morning, who said he was there Wednesday night when the incident occurred, described what apparently led up to the shooting.

Augusta Police Chief Jared Mills speaks at a news conference Thursday at the Augusta Police Department. Mills said deadly force was used Wednesday night after a man threatened residents at the Bread of Life Shelter. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

“Thorn,” who declined to give his full name out of concern for reprisal, said he looked into a kitchen/common area of the building where he saw a male guest at the shelter lying on the floor and bleeding from the back of his head. Thorn said it appeared the man had been hit in the head with a ceramic bowl. He said Paradis was also in the kitchen and had a 10- to 12-inch kitchen knife stuck in his forearm.

“I witnessed him, with the knife in his arm, smashing cupboards in the kitchen, just totally off the wall,” Thorn said. “There was a staff member inside the room with him. And I tried to get her out of there, but she inadvertently backed into the door and closed it, so I couldn’t reach her, couldn’t open the door.”

He said he didn’t see or hear what apparently happened between Paradis and the man on the floor that led to the confrontation.

He said he and other guests and staff left the building, gathering by a garage.

“About five minutes after that, maybe 10 minutes, the police were swarming in here, and there were gunshots. And I knew what had happened,” Thorn said. “I just don’t understand why something like that could happen, you know? He was a young guy. I’m still trying to process it.”

Deputy Chief Kevin Lully said Blodgett and Guptill, per the department’s standard operating procedure, have been placed on administrative leave with pay while circumstances of the incident are reviewed.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone involved in this heartbreaking incident,” police said in the statement.

Mills said he was not aware of any other interaction between Paradis, who was staying at the shelter at the time, and police.

A reporter at the news conference said a family member of Paradis had indicated he was in a mental health crisis. Mills responded he was not aware of that, but the incident happened so quickly a mental health worker the department works with didn’t have time to go to the scene.

The Bread of Life shelter on Hospital Street in Augusta. A man who was allegedly armed with a knife and threatening other residents at the shelter was shot and killed by police officers Wednesday night. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Marc Malon, a spokesman for the Office of the Maine Attorney General, said it was the 10th officer-involved shooting in Maine this year.

Mills said that since around July there has been an increase in calls for police and in the number of “dangerous” situations police have been called to, including calls involving people with mental illness. He said he’s not sure what has caused those increases.

He said officers normally work and are trained, to deescalate a situation immediately as soon as they come onto a scene, including training provided through the National Alliance on Mental Illness. He said officers don’t have the option of not responding to calls when their help is requested in a potentially dangerous situation.

“We’re the ones who are left with those calls,” he said. “If I could dictate the calls I send my officers to, the non-dangerous ones are where I’d send them every time. But these particular situations, we have to respond.”

Mills said the male victim, who apparently had an altercation with Paradis before police arrived, was taken to the hospital. The chief does not anticipate charges being filed against him.

The incident, as police said is standard practice for every officer-involved shooting, will be investigated by officials of the Office of the Maine Attorney General. Augusta police said in the statement the state agency “will focus upon a determination of whether deadly force was in fact used and whether self-defense or defense of others is reasonably generated on the facts.”

“Every part of this will be dissected as part of the investigation,” Mills said, including which officer’s gunshots struck Paradis.

Mills said the incident would be thoroughly investigated, both by the AG’s office and internally by the police department. He said the officers involved, while on paid administrative leave, would also go through “a battery of things.” A psychiatrist also would be involved in assisting the officers before they would be expected to return to duty.

Molly Sirois, executive director of Bread of Life Ministries, said in a statement that the organization, which also operates a soup kitchen, housing at other locations and a veteran’s shelter adjacent to the main shelter on Hospital Street, “wants to reassure our community that our services will continue uninterrupted.”

She said Bread of Life will continue providing temporary housing at the shelter facility on Hospital Street going forward, and most guests last night remained on that property, but in a different building. People in need of emergency housing may contact the shelter at 207-626-3479.

“Bread of Life Ministries asks for support as our community tries to heal from the incident last night,” she said in the statement. “We work to create homes at our shelters, and we appreciate privacy at the shelters for this reason. We pray for all those involved.”

She thanked Bread of Life’s staff, and individuals they serve and thanked Augusta police, the state Attorney General’s Office, and Maine State Police for their quick response and professionalism.

Officer Sabastian Guptill Contributed photo by Augusta Police Department

It’s the second Augusta shooting incident Guptill has been involved in.

In 2019 Guptill shot Robert Farrington, of Fairfield, during an armed confrontation, inside a home where police were looking for Farrington. At the time Farrington was wanted by Fairfield police on charges of domestic violence assault and cruelty to animals. Farrington was armed at the time, police said.

Farrington was taken to the hospital and later released, and arrested for his outstanding warrant obtained by the Fairfield Police Department and on a warrant obtained by the Augusta Police Department for criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon as a result of the incident that occurred in Augusta on Nov. 24, 2019.

Guptill was placed on paid administrative leave while Augusta police conducted an internal investigation of that incident. In January 2020 he returned to work after that internal investigation yielded no corrective action, Mills said at the time.

The Maine Attorney General’s office is also investigating that 2019 incident, which is standard for all incidents regarding the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers. Malon said no finding has yet been issued by the AG’s office on that case.

Mills said Blodgett has been with Augusta police for 15 years and this was his first involvement in the use of deadly force. Guptill was hired by the Augusta Police Department in April 2018, and he graduated from the Maine Criminal Justice Academy in May 2019, finishing second in his class. Mills said Guptill had been with the department as an intern while he was in college.

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