Joseph Eaton enters the West Bath District Court on April 20. He was charged by a grand jury this week with 11 new counts, including several counts of attempted murder after police say he confessed to shooting several people on Interstate 295 in Yarmouth. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Two months after a shooting spree on Interstate 295 locked down parts of Yarmouth, a Cumberland County Grand Jury has filed 11 charges against the lone suspect, including several counts of attempted murder with a firearm.

Joseph Eaton, 34, of Bowdoin was already facing four murder charges for allegedly shooting his parents, Cynthia and David Eaton, and their family friends, Bob and Patti Eger at the Eger family home in Bowdoin on April 17. But until Wednesday he had not been charged with crimes related to the following morning’s highway shootings, which resulted in the hospitalization of Bowdoinham man Sean Halsey, 51, and his two adult children, Justin, 29, and Paige Halsey, 26.

All three shooting victims are expected to recover. Police said Eaton confessed to the shootings.

The grand jury charged Eaton with 10 Class A crimes, including aggravated attempted murder, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Eaton, who was prohibited from carrying a gun after being convicted of multiple felonies, was also charged with a lesser Class C crime of possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

Eaton remains in custody at Two Bridges Regional Jail where he is being held without bond. His next appearance in Sagadahoc County Superior Court is scheduled for June 28. He has not yet been indicted on the murder charges or entered a plea.

Eaton’s court-appointed attorney, Andrew Wright, did not immediately answer a call asking to discuss the case Friday evening.


The Maine Office of the Attorney General is prosecuting the case, according to a statement in April from the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office.

A spokesperson for the AG’s office declined to comment on the indictment Friday and whether the two cases will be consolidated.


Eaton opened fire near Exits 17 and 15 after believing he was being chased by police, officials have said. Otherwise, authorities have shared very little about the attacks, leaving unanswered questions about what Eaton was doing in Yarmouth.

One witness told the Press Herald she was getting off at Exit 15 when a man in the car in front of her slammed on his brakes, got out, and pointed a gun at her.

“He had both arms up pointing a pistol at me, with one eye closed. He was aiming to shoot,” said Rose Clayton, 21.


She drove away and later saw him run into the woods. Police arrested Eaton shortly afterward.

Sean Halsey was driving south on the interstate to shop for groceries with his two children when several gunshots ripped through his back window, hitting all three family members, he said at a news conference two weeks after the shooting. Halsey suffered only a broken finger, while his son Justin was shot in the back and suffered significant tissue damage.

Bullets hit Paige Halsey in the lower back and side and “bounced around in her body,” wounding several internal organs, her father told reporters. Two weeks after the shooting, Halsey remained in Maine Medical Center but was in stable condition and recovering.

The Halseys declined to comment on the new indictment.

Sean Halsey says Paige “continues to recover well. The only physical issues are from diminished capacity in her lung. It will be long term to determine if it will recover to 100%. Both Paige and Justin are returning to work part-time and light duty next week.”

Eaton also fired on at least three other people, according to the indictment: Daniel Harrison, 43, Chao-Hsuan Jiang, 46, and Evangeline Kensell, 60.


The violence on the interstate took place at around 10:30 a.m. and prompted authorities to shut down the road for several hours while police searched for the shooter. Yarmouth-area schools and businesses were locked down and residents watched from their windows as armed officers from several departments conducted the manhunt that eventually led to Eaton’s peaceful surrender.

Later that afternoon, police announced they believed the interstate shootings were connected to the crime scene at the Eger’s home in Bowdoin.

Eaton, who had been released from prison just three days before he allegedly shot his parents and the Egers, had no connection to the Halseys or the other highway victims.


More than two dozen emergency call transcripts the Press Herald obtained last week through a public records request offered few new details about either the Bowdoin crime scene or the Yarmouth shootings, as officials redacted most of the transcripts to the point they were nearly unreadable.

One transcript from 10:36 a.m. on the day of the shootings suggests the caller was driving on I-295 when their passenger was shot. But information about the status of the passenger, the type of car they were driving, and where they were located is all redacted.

The unredacted portion from another transcript indicates a caller saw the shooter with a gun before driving away. The caller answered questions about what type of gun the shooter had and whether they saw the shooter fire the gun, but that information is again redacted.

Another transcript of a call from 9:21 a.m. seems to describe a report from someone who had learned of the crime scene in Bowdoin but who wasn’t present. But other than comments like “Hello,” and “Yup,” almost nothing the caller said in the seven-page document is unredacted.

Maine’s public records laws allow law enforcement agencies to withhold records in a handful of specific circumstances, including in cases where the documents could interfere with criminal investigations or court proceedings, reveal police investigative techniques, or endanger public safety officials. Paul Cavanaugh, the attorney for the Maine Department of Public Safety, did not provide a specific justification for the redactions beyond citing legal statutes. 

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