POLAND — Tom Printup last saw Tim Davison on Halloween night.
The two were high school classmates and friends and hadn’t crossed paths in months. That night, they ran into each other at a local bar and chatted for close to an hour.
“He was always someone who attracted people to him. Even if he was having a bad day, no one would ever have known,” said Printup, a captain in the Poland Fire and Rescue Department. “That’s just the type of guy he was.”
When Printup learned that Davison had been shot and killed Saturday in a random act of violence on a rural stretch of highway in Pennsylvania, his first emotion was utter shock. How could something like that happen, seemingly unprovoked?
“The worst part, though, was just picturing him having to go through that all by himself,” said Printup. “No one deserves that.”
Davison, 28, was driving north on Interstate 81 near the Pennsylvania-Maryland border before dawn Saturday when he called 911 twice to report that he was being chased and shot at by someone in a dark-colored pickup truck. A few minutes later, the pickup’s driver ran Davison off the road and someone in the truck shot him multiple times, including in the head.
Pennsylvania authorities say they believe Davison was killed by someone who could strike again, and are investigating any connection between his killing and a shooting eight hours earlier about 60 miles away in Monaghan Township, Pa. The victim in that incident, who was not injured, told police that the driver of a black Nissan pickup truck fired at him several times.
Many residents in Poland, the rural town in southwestern Androscoggin County where Davison grew up and was known simply as “Asti” (pronounced Aw-stee), share Printup’s disbelief that one of their own could be taken in such a callous way.
Nick Colby knew Davison for as long as he could remember, probably all the way back to their days playing T-ball. In school, they played sports together. As young adults, they shared an apartment in Auburn. Colby said he has plenty of stories about his friend but a lot of them are “not fit for publication.”
“He was the kind of guy where doing nothing with him was entertaining, you know,” he said.
Colby heard about Davison’s death Sunday morning from a mutual friend. “You read about these things all the time but you never think it can happen inside your own bubble,” he said.
Even people in Poland who didn’t know Davison well are talking about his death this week. Poland, like many small towns in Maine, is the sort of place where everyone knows everyone. If they didn’t know Davison personally, they know his family.
Angie Taylor, principal of the local elementary school, taught Davison at Poland Regional High School in the early part of the last decade and remembers him fondly from among the hundreds of students who have passed through.
“He was in the first class I ever taught,” Taylor said Tuesday from her office at the Elm Street School in neighboring Mechanic Falls. “Such a nice kid.”
Taylor remembers Davison’s “moment” in high school: He had been working on a senior project for the whole year and was ready to present it. He had rebuilt his pickup truck and installed pneumatic lifts that he gleefully showed off to classmates by making the truck “bounce” outside the school.
“I remember thinking, ‘He’s going to be OK,’ ” Taylor said.
NATURAL MECHANIC, LOVED OUTDOORS
It was Davison’s love and aptitude for mechanics that drove him throughout his life after high school. He went to work for his father, also named Tim Davison, at Engineered Construction Services in Raymond, working as a pipe fitter and commercial welder who also supervised crews.
Friends and relatives said he was a natural when it came to machinery. Colby said he was sometimes embarrassed to work on his own vehicle when Davison was around. “He’d come over and tell me I was doing it wrong,” Colby said.
Printup said Davison worked hard, but when he punched the clock at the end of the day, he was ready to play. Often it was some sort of outdoor adventure, “mudding” in his Jeep, riding his motorcycle, camping or just surrounding himself with friends.
While he was in high school, Davison worked for several summers at the Poland Spring Resort, one of the town’s few landmarks.
Cyndi Robbins, president of the resort, said Davison was just the latest family member in a long line of them who worked for her. His mother, Theresa Allocca, was a longtime employee. His sister, Adele, whom he was visiting in Florida just one day before his death, worked part time at the resort.
Robbins said her heart aches for his family.
“You just don’t think something like this can happen. So senseless,” she said. “There are so many questions.”
Police in Pennsylvania and in Maryland, where Davison first called 911 to report that a driver was following him aggressively, say they are still investigating but have not found the killer.
DEADLY ENCOUNTER HARD TO FATHOM
Many of Davison’s friends and others have taken to social media websites such as Facebook to protest the way the investigation has gone. They can’t understand why police still haven’t caught his killer.
Colby said the investigation has been frustrating for him.
“I have to believe someone saw something and will come forward,” he said. “The family deserves that justice to bring closure.”
Davison’s mother, however, said she believes police are doing all they can.
“This story is out nationally now. We hope whoever did this is found,” Allocca said this week as she made arrangements for her son’s funeral on Saturday.
Asked how her family is holding up, Allocca said that “everyone is still in shock.”
Until police find the person who killed Davison, the circumstances of his predawn encounter on I-81 will remain unknown. His friends and family said he was not the type of person to engage with an enraged motorist.
“If anything, he was the guy to calm everyone down, not antagonize a situation,” said Printup.
Added Colby, “He would absolutely stick up for himself; he wouldn’t back down. But I don’t see him getting into a situation that would put his life in danger.”
Cari Medd, principal at Poland Regional High School, said many teachers remember Davison as a loyal friend with a great sense of humor.
“Those circumstances do not match the awesome kid that many here remember and still loved,” she said.
A gathering for Davison’s family and friends will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Wilson Funeral Home in Gray, followed by a celebration of life at Cyndi’s Dockside, one of the only restaurants in Poland. The family has asked those who attend not to wear black, but to come in casual attire, such as Carhartt pants and flannel shirts.
That was Davison’s style, the family said. It’s what he would have wanted.
Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at: