SIDNEY — An intruder was shot in the chest Sunday night by a man who came to the rescue of his elderly mother and was in turn seriously injured himself, police said.
The intruder, Dreaquan Foster, 21, of Providence, Rhode Island, allegedly forced his way into the Lyons Road home of Audrey Hewett, 84, of Sidney, according to a news release Monday from Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason.
But Foster was thwarted by her son, 47-year-old Eric Hewett, who lives nearby and came to the home after receiving a phone call from his mother. Eric Hewett had a handgun and managed to shoot Foster in the chest, but he also suffered a serious head injury during the altercation, Mason said.
Eric Hewett was still at Maine Medical Center in Portland Monday afternoon, but he is expected to make “a full recovery from (his) injuries,” his wife, Patty Hewett, wrote in an email Monday to the Kennebec Journal. His mother was “unharmed physically but emotionally shook up,” Patty Hewett said.
Patty Hewett declined to provide further information about what happened Sunday night, but said of her husband: “He is a hero!”
No information was immediately available about Foster’s medical condition Monday afternoon, but Mason said he will be taken to Kennebec County jail after he’s released from the hospital. Police did not immediately announce what they plan to charge Foster with or provide a photo of him.
Police and rescue workers responded to the Lyons Road home at 7:11 p.m. Sunday night and were there until early Monday morning.
It was the second time in less than a week that an alleged home invasion was thwarted by a central Maine resident with a handgun. On March 8, a Richmond man shot a stranger who entered his kitchen early in the morning as he was preparing to leave for work. The intruder in that case was Shad Hembree, 42, who allegedly used a large metal flashlight to try to break into the kitchen after an earlier warning to leave from the man who lived there, Trevor Whitney. Whitney, a 28-year-old Army veteran who served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, then shot Hembree in the shoulder with his pistol, a Sig Sauer .40-caliber semi-automatic.
Hembree, who was not seriously injured, is now facing burglary and criminal threatening charges. Police suggested his actions may have been related to mental illness, and prosecutors are seeking a mental evaluation for him.
In an interview Monday, Robert Schwartz, a retired South Portland police chief and the executive director of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, said he doesn’t know if legally armed Mainers are more frequently confronting criminal suspects.
But he says there could be a rise in those encounters over the next couple of years, as legislative efforts to change the state’s gun laws make the news. In 2015, lawmakers passed a law allowing Mainers to carry concealed firearms without a permit, and this year, several legislators have submitted bills that would expand access to firearms around the state.
“We’re now an open carry state because of people voting for it,” Schwartz said. “I suspect it will be on the rise at this point. Anytime you bring anything up with people and talk about it, it’s obviously fresh in people’s minds.”
Schwartz said his group’s recommendation is that Mainers call the police to handle all public safety issues, but he also noted that legally armed citizens have a right to use their guns if they feel endangered.
“We’d prefer to be called, to have law enforcement be called,” Schwartz said. “But if (police are) not involved, the person has the right to defend (himself or herself).”
According to Mason, the invasion on Sunday night began when a person knocked on Audrey Hewett’s door asking to use the phone. Hewett told the suspect, later identified as Foster, to go next door, but he instead began to force his way inside, police said.
Hewett went into her bedroom and called her son, who lives next door. He came over to find the suspect trying to force his way into Audrey Hewett’s bedroom, but according to police, Foster struck him “in the head with a blunt instrument” and continued to attack him after he fell to the floor.
“Foster continued his attack until Eric Hewett shot Foster in the upper chest with a handgun he was carrying,” Mason said.
After the call reporting the home invasion came to a dispatch center at 7:11 p.m., sheriff’s deputies arrived and found Eric Hewett with a serious head injury and Foster suffering from a gunshot wound to the chest. Audrey Hewett was uninjured.
Both Hewett and Foster were treated by the Sidney Fire and Rescue Crew, and Delta Ambulance took them both to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta, according to Mason.
Mason said the Kennebec County Criminal Investigative Division processed the scene and that the investigation was continuing throughout Monday.
More information about the investigation was not available late in the afternoon, including any suggestion of Foster’s motives and further details about his confrontation with Eric Hewett.
The home invasion took place at 47 Lyons Road in a quiet neighborhood with open fields and few homes. No one answered the door Monday morning at Audrey Hewett’s ranch-style home, where a red Toyota Camry was parked in the driveway.
A bay window on the front of the home appeared to have been shattered recently — shards of glass lay on the snow just below the window, and a green tarpaulin was nailed over the empty frame. The sheriff’s office didn’t immediately respond to a question of whether the window wreckage was related to the home invasion incident.
Next door, at the home where Eric Hewett lives, no one answered the door on Monday either.
Bob Stewart, who lives across the street, was away on Sunday night and only returned to his home around 8 a.m. Monday, he said during an interview late in the morning. He also said he thought the red car outside the home belonged to Eric Hewett.
Stewart hadn’t heard about the alleged home invasion, he said, but he noticed one suspicious detail at his own home on Monday. A package of inexpensive carpentry supplies that he had ordered from Amazon was lying near the side of his home — not in the normal delivery spot, near his front door — and the package appeared to have been tampered with. The items hadn’t been taken, but the box was open and the receipt that normally accompanies deliveries was gone.
After hearing about the alleged home invasion across the street, Stewart said he planned to report the incident to the sheriff’s office. Mason didn’t immediately respond to an emailed question about Stewart’s delivery.
Charles Eichacker — 621-5642