Brittney Cockrell, right, with her three children, and partner Michael Hayter. Cockrell and Hayter were shot to death last week in Westbrook. Contributed / McKinney family

The random shooting deaths of a Westbrook couple in front of their children in a parking lot last week has put the community on edge, downtown workers say.

Brittney Cockrell and Michael Hayter were killed in the parking lot off Main and Bridge streets in downtown Westbrook June 19 while their 11-year-old son, Mason, and 7-year-old daughter, Mattie Belle, were in the car.

A candlelight vigil for Brittney Cockrell and Michael Hayter at the Westbrook shooting scene drew about 70 people last Friday, Joe Salisbury said. Robert Lowell / American Journal

State police have said there is no known connection between the suspect, Marcel Lagrange Jr., and the victims, who moved to Westbrook six months ago from Texas.

“People are saying, ‘Wow, it could have been me,'” Joe Salisbury, owner of the Daily Grind on Main Street, said Tuesday. 

Ed Symbol, owner of Full Court Press printing company on Main Street, said the randomness has put a “lot of people on edge.”

Since the slayings, people are more aware of their surroundings, Symbol said, noting that Westbrook Police a few months ago had stepped up their surveillance of the area along the River Walk behind downtown businesses.


“People are shocked,” Salisbury said, “but I don’t think people are afraid.”

Lagrange, 24, appeared in Cumberland County Superior Court via Zoom June 21 but was not required to enter a plea on two counts of intentional or knowing murder, each of which carries a penalty of 25 years to life in prison. He has a history of violent and threatening behavior and mental illness, according to Portland Press Herald reports.

Amy Roche, receptionist at the Swanson Group accounting firm on Main Street, said mental health care needs to be stepped up.

Resident Maureen Conley, who said she had been in the parking lot where the shootings took place just a few days before they happened, agreed with Roche.

“So many questions about the mental health system,” Conley said. “It’s such a tragedy, that poor family,”

Roche added, “How did he have a gun?”


State police said this week that they will not be disclosing any details about the type or model of the gun used in the shootings or other specifics while the investigation is ongoing.

The shootings occurred near Portland Pie at 869 Main St. General manager Ben Bourne, who grew up in Westbrook, said he’d never heard of anything like the double slayings happening in his hometown before.

Bourne wasn’t working on June 19, but said his duty manager didn’t think that Cockrell, Hayter and their children had been in the restaurant that evening. Portland Pie closes at 8 p.m. on Mondays and state police say the time of the shootings was about 8:28 p.m.

The duty manager didn’t hear any gunshots, Bourne said, and only learned of the tragedy when police began arriving.

Cockrell’s father, Jeff McKinney, was in Westbrook Tuesday and said he will be taking the two children back to Texas.

The children’s grandmother, Brenda McKinney, has started a “Mattie Bell and Mason Hayter Fund” on to “support the children’s future and honor the memories of Brittney McKinney Cockrell and Michael Hayter.” The fund had raised more than $17,000 early Wednesday with a $250,000 goal.

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