WATERVILLE — City officials are decrying late-night downtown vandalism and violence, including the shooting death of a man Tuesday.
“I’m sick of it,” Mayor Karen Heck said Thursday. “I’m sick of all of it and nobody’s putting it in a bigger context. This is not an out-of-the-box tragedy. Really, it’s something that we all have to take a responsibility for putting an end to.”
In addition to the shooting, the city has been dealing with problems involving bar patrons fighting and breaking windows as they leave bars late at night. Heck said Thursday that people need to take a hard look at what’s happening and what kind of community they want to create.
“We have a culture of violence in this country, and it’s time we started taking stock of what that is reaping us,” she said.
Justin V. Smith, 26, of China, was shot and killed late Tuesday at The Concourse downtown. His family declined to comment Thursday.
Matthew Partridge, 30, of Winslow, reportedly shot Smith with a 9 mm Sig Sauer handgun, according to an affidavit filed Wednesday in Waterville District Court. He is charged with murder and on Thursday remained in the Kennebec County jail in Augusta.
The state Medical Examiner’s Office reported Thursday that Smith had died from a gunshot to the head, classifying the death as a homicide.
Meanwhile, Partridge’s court-appointed attorney, Pamela Ames, of Waterville, said late Thursday afternoon that a bail hearing for Partridge is set for 1:30 p.m. Monday in Kennebec County Superior Court in Augusta with Judge Michaela Murphy. Assistant Attorney General Andrew Benson is the prosecutor.
According to the affidavit, police responded to the shooting after 11 p.m. Tuesday and found Smith lying face-up on The Concourse.
“Smith was bleeding from an area around his eye and mouth,” it says.
After the shooting, Partridge left in a pickup truck and later was stopped by a state police trooper in Smithfield.
Heck said there is a larger context in which the shooting happened and the issue must be addressed.
“It’s not people killing people with knives; it’s people killing people with guns,” she said. “I think in this country, the (National Rifle Association) has been a front for gun manufacturers long enough, and people have to start understanding what the Second Amendment was truly written for.”
She said the amendment in U.S. Constitution that allows private gun ownership should help safeguard people in their homes, but gun use is going far beyond that.
Partridge’s mother, Diana Michaud, said Wednesday that the shooting was out of character for her son, a veteran and former U.S. Marine who served in Iraq in 2005 and came home a different person. She said he no longer trusts people and is afraid of crowds.
Tuesday’s shooting happened after both Partridge and Smith left You Know Whose Pub at The Concourse, according to police. Deputy police Chief Charles Rumsey said Thursday he would not characterize the pub as a place that produces a high volume of calls to police.
“We have more calls for service and issues at other places in town,” he said.
Police Chief Joseph Massey said the downtown area, particularly at night, poses a challenge for police, as many young people come into the city to frequent bars, drink too much and then get into fights and vandalize downtown businesses.
Heck, Massey and several bar owners discussed the issue, and the owners created a $1,000 fund to help offset insurance deductibles for affected property owners.
To the bar owners’ credit, Massey said, they put together the fund to help vandalized businesses and are posting notices in their entryways that explain drinking laws. The posters also say if patrons drink too much or fight, they will be barred from the businesses. People who are underage and try to buy alcohol also will be barred, according to the posters.
Massey said police do not have the resources to place officers near every bar, and there have been instances in which an officer has sat in an unmarked vehicle near a bar and seen a fight break out right in front of him.
“When you’re intoxicated, you do spontaneous, stupid things; and a lot of it, sometimes, is very serious,” he said.
Amy Calder — 861-9247