RICHMOND — A man allegedly caught breaking into a Post Road couple’s apartment early Wednesday morning was shot by a resident after the suspect tried to break through the front door a second time.
Richmond police Chief Scott MacMaster said the suspect, Shad Hembree, 42, suffered a wound that did not appear to be serious. He was struck by a single shot from a handgun, by Trevor Whitney, 28, who lives with his girlfriend, Lindsey Levasseur, 23, at the residence being broken into.
Whitney said Wednesday afternoon he didn’t want to shoot the man, but when it became clear he was trying to force his way in, he felt he had to take action to protect himself and his girlfriend. Whitney, a Marine from 2007 to 2013 who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, said he first aimed at the intruder’s head but, before firing, aimed at his shoulder, which is where the bullet hit him, because he didn’t want to kill him.
“I thought, ‘I’m not letting this guy in,'” Whitney said of the early-morning incident. “I didn’t want to shoot him.”
Levasseur said she’s grateful her live-in boyfriend took action and that he hadn’t yet left for work, which would have left her alone in the apartment when the stranger came into their home. She praised his shooting skills and his choice not to kill the suspect.
“I’m so happy he shot him where he meant to shoot him,” she said. “I think he handled it beautifully. I know if he wanted to kill him, he would have.”
MacMaster said police were called around 5:45 a.m. Wednesday and the woman caller said a man was in her apartment and her boyfriend was yelling at him to get out.
Whitney said he was getting ready to go to his job at the Loomis armored truck company around 5:30 a.m. and was about to make coffee when suddenly a man he had never seen before came through their unlocked front door into their home. The man was barefoot and wearing tattered camouflage pants.
Whitney asked the man who he was and what he was doing there, and the man, later identified by police as Hembree, responded by asking the same questions back to him. The man was holding a large metal flashlight, “like he had hostile intent,” Whitney said, and refused to leave.
Whitney then picked up his pistol, a Sig Sauer .40-caliber semi-automatic, which he uses for work and which he had left on the couple’s kitchen table, and warned the man, “I will shoot you. You need to leave.”
Looking back with a blank stare, the man then backed out of the home, and started down the exterior stairs from the couple’s apartment, which is above a garage and has a small porch.
Whitney went back inside, locked their door and told Levasseur to call 911. Whitney said Hembree seemed to react to hearing Levasseur’s voice inside the home, and he came back up the stairs and started shining his flashlight through one of their two French-style glass front doors. Then he used the flashlight to break the glass out of the door. When it became clear he was trying to get back into the apartment, Whitney fired his pistol, striking the intruder in the shoulder.
At the time of the shot, the suspect was at the door on the porch, and the shooter, Whitney, was inside, about 13 feet from the door, according to MacMaster.
MacMaster said Hembree then ran down the exterior stairs from the apartment and into the driveway, and, despite having been shot, started smashing the windows of the victim’s vehicle.
Later Wednesday, a piece of wood was covering the broken glass door, and a piece of plastic had been taped onto Whitney’s car to cover up the broken rear window.
Whitney called his mother, who lives in a home that shares a driveway with his apartment, and told her a strangely acting man was outside and to make sure her doors were locked.
Hembree went up to her home and started looking in its windows, Whitney said. Then, bleeding, he came back up the stairs and stood, looking through the newly broken door, and stared at Whitney, who again warned him he would shoot him if he came into the apartment again. He then sat in a lawn chair on their porch, still staring into the apartment, until police arrived.
A deputy from the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office arrived at the scene, assessed Hembree’s injury and waited for Gardiner Rescue to arrive. Hembree was taken by ambulance to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta. MacMaster said an officer would stay with Hembree in the hospital, and if and when he is released, he would be taken to Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset.
Hembree was arrested and charged with burglary, but MacMaster said additional charges probably will be recommended after the details of the incident are reviewed.
Whitney was not charged with any crime.
“It was clearly a situation of self-defense,” MacMaster said of Whitney shooting Hembree.
MacMaster said the victim and the suspect are neighbors but did not know each other and never had had any contact with each other, and their homes — the victim’s at 128 Post Road, the suspect’s at 140 Post Road — are separated by woods.
Levasseur said they’re worried that Hembree could be released on bail and return to their home, and there could be a repeat of the incident. Whitney said they’ll keep their front door locked from now on.
MacMaster said police think Hembree’s actions in the case might be related to mental illness. He said police had been called to his home in the past to check on his welfare, though none of those calls involved criminal activity.
Whitney said Hembree’s intent in the incident wasn’t clear.
“I don’t think even he knew what he was doing,” he said.
Officers from Richmond police and the Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office and an off-duty Brunswick police officer in the area who heard the call responded to a report of the incident.
Records at the Capital Judicial Center indicate that Hembree was convicted in January 2015 of a charge of operating under the influence. He was fined $500 and was jailed for 48 hours.
Keith Edwards — 621-5647