Report: ‘Drinking’ Deputies Nearly Ram Each Other in Armored Vehicles in Search of Gunman in Maine Mass Shooting

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By The Vanguard Staff

PORTLAND, ME — Deputies—including ones who had been drinking—almost rammed their armored vehicle into another armored vehicle and just added to the “chaos” in the search for the gunman in last October’s mass shooting in Maine, according to an after-action report obtained this past week by The Associated Press.

AP also noted the report cited other deputies arrived in civilians clothes, and “could have been mistaken for the suspect.

“The Portland Police Department report describes how officers rushed to secure the scene where the gunman abandoned his car after killing 18 people in the state’s deadliest shooting. Tactical team leader Nicholas Goodman said in the report that the officers who showed up without any orders risked doing more harm than good,” wrote the AP.

A tactical team from Cumberland County nearly crashed its vehicle into Goodman, who said, “It locked up its brakes and came to an abrupt halt with the tires making a noise a large 18-wheeler makes when it stops abruptly while carrying a copious amount of weight. I’d estimate the armored car came within 20-30 feet of striking our armored car and most likely killing a number of us.”

“You could smell the aroma of intoxicants” from the Cumberland vehicle, whose occupants said they had come from a funeral, Goodman was credited for saying in the AP story, adding, “I have never seen the amount of self-dispatching, federal involvement with plain clothes and utter chaos with self-dispatching in my career.”

The AP wrote that Daniel Wathen, chairperson of an independent commission investigating the shooting, said commissioners will address the report’s “disturbing allegations” but others may be outside the panel’s scope, including the allegations of drinking.

The nine-page report, which was partially redacted, was obtained by the AP through the state’s Freedom of Access Act.

AP explained Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office and Portland Police Department tactical teams were “responding to a location where the shooter’s vehicle was abandoned by the Androscoggin River the evening of Oct. 25, after the gunman killed 18 people and wounded 13 others at a bowling alley and a bar in Lewiston. The gunman was found dead two days later from a self-inflicted wound.

The Portland report was especially critical of self-dispatching officers, wrote the AP, noting the report “suggested officers who arrived to help in plain clothes — ‘similar clothing to the suspect’ — created a dangerous situation in which officers could have exchanged fire with each other in a wooded area near the abandoned vehicle.”

The report, added the AP, noted “tactical vehicles used by the Cumberland Sheriff’s Office and Portland police apparently were not aware of each other’s presence. The Portland team, which arrived first near the site of the gunman’s vehicle, was attempting to keep police cruisers off a bridge where lights were transforming officers into potential targets.”

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