05/15/2006

Smoke bomb ends 6-hour Maine standoff

BETTY JESPERSEN Blethen Maine News Service
 
FARMINGTON

Copyright 2006 Blethen Maine Newspapers, Inc.
All Rights Reserved 

An unemployed bouncer was arrested Friday after a standoff with police that ended when officers tossed a smoke bomb into the apartment where he was holed up, then went in after him. Police said Matthew Mclarnon of Farmington, distraught about being jilted by a former girlfriend, entered her Church Street apartment, then barricaded himself and her inside, threatening to hurt himself with a knife.

The nearly six-hour standoff in the heart of downtown Farmington ended at 11 a.m. when a state police tactical team member reached out from an adjoining apartment window and lobbed the smoke bomb into the bedroom.

Within moments, police removed a struggling Mclarnon from the house and placed him in a waiting cruiser.

Mclarnon, 25, was arrested on charges that include aggravated criminal trespass, a felony.

The trespass charge became aggravated because an assault reportedly was committed while Mclarnon was trespassing, according to Farmington police Lt. Jack Peck. Other charges are two counts of misdemeanor assault and creating a police standoff.

With busy morning traffic a block away along Main Street, officers wearing camouflage and aiming assault rifles were in position behind parked police vehicles. Cruisers blocked High, Anson, Cony and Church streets to pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Church Street businesses were advised to either move workers out or stay away from windows and lock the doors, several employees said.

No one was injured, and Mclarnon was taken for a psychological evaluation at Franklin Memorial Hospital, Peck said.

Mclarnon allegedly showed up about 5 a.m. at the woman's apartment at 112 Church St. and let himself in with a key he kept after the woman had broken up with him three weeks ago, Peck said.

Inside the two-room apartment, he confronted the woman and her current boyfriend, who were awake at the time, Peck said.

"She asked (Mclarnon) to leave several times and said she was going to call the police if he did not leave voluntarily," he said.

When the woman reached for her portable phone, Mclarnon allegedly grabbed a chef's knife from the kitchen and threatened to hurt himself, Peck said.

The woman and her boyfriend told police they tried to flee and Mclarnon pushed them away.

Mclarnon, who is 6 feet, 2 inches and weighs 280 pounds, followed the woman when she ran into the bedroom, then barricaded the door with his body while the boyfriend, concerned for her safety, tried to get inside, Peck said.

"She managed to call 911," Peck said. "Officer Ed Hastings responded and when she heard his cruiser pull in, she climbed out the window onto the porch roof, and Ed helped her down."

Hastings went into the apartment and talked to Mclarnon through the door, telling him to come out, while police dispatchers had every available officer in the area respond, Peck said.

At the height of the action, about 20 officers from Farmington, state police, Franklin County, Wilton, the University of Maine at Farmington and NorthStar EMS were on the scene.

Franklin County Sheriff's Detective Tom White, a certified police negotiator, kept Mclarnon on the phone while officers inside the apartment tried unsuccessfully to convince him to open the door.

Peck said he decided to call the state police tactical team and their negotiator. With the building surrounded by armed officers and a police dog on the porch, the standoff suddenly ended with a loud explosion, followed by thick, white smoke billowing out the window. 
 
Blethen Maine News Service photo
State police, Farmington police and Franklin County sheriff's officers spent nearly six hours in a standoff at an apartment on Church Street in Farmington on Friday.
 
May 14, 2006

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