PORTLAND — A Biddeford man who was pulled over Sunday on the Maine Turnpike with an AK-47 assault rifle, several semi-automatic handguns, ammunition and news clippings about the Colorado theater shootings in his car remained in jail Monday on $50,000 cash bail.
Timothy Courtois, 49, told investigators he was speeding to New Hampshire to shoot a former employer, according to police. He also said he took a loaded handgun into the Saco Cinemagic Theater on Saturday night during a showing of the new Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” the same movie that was playing in the Aurora, Colo., theater where 12 people were shot and killed early Friday.
“Thankfully, he was fully compliant and calm,” said Maine State Police Trooper Philip Alexander, who pulled Courtois over Sunday morning and noticed the connections to Colorado. “Was he asking to get caught? Was it a cry for help? It could have been.”
Courtois, who was being held at the York County Jail, pleaded not guilty Monday to criminal speeding and possession of concealed weapons without a permit. He is scheduled for a trial date in August, and also is expected to face federal charges.
The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are investigating the case because of the firearms and Courtois’ statement that he planned to cross state lines to shoot someone, police said.
Police followed up the traffic stop by searching Courtois’ apartment at 344 Elm St., where they found boxes of ammunition and a larger arsenal of guns, including a fully automatic FN .308-caliber machine gun with a scope and tripod. It is illegal to own a fully automatic weapon without a federal firearms license. All of the other guns were legal to own, as long as they were not concealed.
Police said Courtois doesn’t appear to have a criminal record. Neighbors said local police had visited his home in recent days, although Biddeford police did not confirm that Monday.
Neighbors also said they knew little about Courtois, who lives alone in a second-floor apartment and rarely had visitors. They were surprised and troubled about all the weapons in his home.
“Maybe I should start paying attention to my neighbors,” said Denise Guay, who lives next door to Courtois. “It just goes to show you that you don’t know.”
Roger Guay, her husband, said the apparent connections to the deadly Colorado shootings were particularly disturbing, as was Courtois’ ability to get weapons so easily.
“He was always getting packages,” Guay said. “How can you amass an arsenal like that and not have someone suspect something?”
Courtois was stopped at 10 a.m. Sunday in York after motorists reported a black Mustang driving fast in the southbound lanes with its hazard lights on.
Alexander happened to be patrolling on the turnpike a few miles south in an unmarked gray Mustang. “He shot by me at 112 miles per hour,” Alexander said.
Alexander turned on his lights, caught up to Courtois and pulled him over without incident, he said.
“He was unusually calm given the excessive speed. That raised a flag with me,” Alexander said.
Other details raised flags, too, he said. The Mustang was nearly identical to one used by another trooper, and Courtois told Alexander he planned to put in a scanner and a dashboard camera like the ones in cruisers.
Courtois initially told Alexander he was racing to New Hampshire to get a concealed weapons permit, even though it was a Sunday morning.
“I asked him if there were weapons in the car and he said, ‘Yes.'” In fact there was an AK-47 assault rifle, a shotgun and four handguns, all in cases in the back seat, and several boxes of ammunition, Alexander said.
Alexander said he was already thinking about the potential for the Colorado shootings to trigger other incidents, and he took note of the types of weapons and other similarities. He noticed, for example, that Courtous bought the new Mustang on Friday, not long after the Colorado shootings.
After he was arrested, Courtois told the FBI he was going to Derry, N.H., to shoot a former employer, and that he had taken a loaded gun hidden in his backpack into the Saco Cinemagic Theater on Saturday night and watched the new Batman movie, Alexander said.
Police would not identify the former employer in New Hampshire, but said it could have been someone he worked for years ago rather than someone connected to Courtois’ latest job in Biddeford.
“We believe he had just lost a job recently, which may have been a catalyst,” Alexander said. Courtois’ neighbors said he worked at Rousseau Insurance Agency, which is just steps down Elm Street from his apartment.
Jim Rousseau, co-owner of the Biddeford insurance agency, would not answer questions Monday and declined to say whether Courtois still worked there or if he was let go. The company’s website listed Courtois as agent and rating specialist. Courtois posted on his Facebook page that he recently left that job.
Courtois lives on Elm Street near downtown Biddeford on the second floor of a two-story house. “He was a quiet guy; I never considered him a threat,” said Jeanne Mailhiot, who lives in an apartment building across the street. “I have a (5-year-old) grandson that visits me, so it’s a little scary.”
Laurette Cote, another neighbor, had just seen the television news coverage of Courtois’ arrest. “He’s the one?” she said early Monday afternoon from her front steps. “Oh my goodness, I had no idea. I’m glad they got him.”
Cote said she doesn’t remember ever having a conversation with the man. She, too, was surprised that a neighbor of hers could have so many weapons.
Neighbors said state police troopers were stationed at Courtois’ residence most of the day Sunday, but they also saw previous signs that something was amiss.
Both Mailhiot and Roger Guay said local police had been to the man’s apartment in the days before his arrest. Biddeford police would not confirm that.
– Staff Writer Eric Russell contributed to this report.
Staff Writer John Richardson can be contacted at 791-6324 or at: