AUGUSTA — A city man is in custody after he fired a handgun inside Walmart following a confrontation with a store customer Monday night, police said.

The shooting incident didn’t seriously injure anyone, police said, but a woman who witnessed the fracas suffered a medical problem and died in the parking lot outside.

Robert Potter, 31, of Augusta, was arrested by Augusta police initially on charges of reckless conduct with a dangerous weapon and aggravated assault with a firearm. Later he was charged with criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, which is a felony.

Potter was taken to MaineGeneral Medical Center and remains hospitalized at an undisclosed location for medical treatment, according to a news release issued Tuesday.

Kevin J. Roberge, the other man involved in the confrontation with Potter, said in an interview Tuesday that he had never touched a gun before he grabbed the barrel of the Glock he said that Potter pointed at him Monday night.

“I wouldn’t let go of the barrel, no ifs ands or buts,” he said, while sitting in his kitchen.

“I have been through hell for the last six or seven months, physically,” he said. “I had a gastric bypass in 2003, and I have been nutrient-deficient, especially on proteins. After that, I wouldn’t allow that man to kill me. I also thought of my 81-year-old mother, what it would do to her. I couldn’t allow this man to do any harm to me because that would kill my mother.”

Roberge, 52, and Potter didn’t know each other before their violent altercation Monday evening. Neither lives far from Walmart.

Court records show that Potter was convicted in September 2016 of theft by unauthorized taking of a night vision monocular from Walmart; he was fined and ordered to pay restitution. He also pleaded guilty to a charge of criminal trespass at Walmart, after he was told by Officer Michael Raymond he was not supposed to be in the store, and he was ordered to serve 96 hours in jail.

The following month, Potter was convicted on an assault charge on a police officer and he was fined $300.

On his Facebook page, which displays a photo of a Glock handgun, Potter lists the U.S. Army as his employer from 2008 to 2013.

POWDER BURNS AND CUT

Roberge’s account of Monday night mirrors what’s in the news release that Augusta police Deputy Chief Jared Mills issued Tuesday.

In the police account, Potter “became engaged in a verbal confrontation with another customer. At one point during the argument Mr. Potter brandished a firearm pointing it at the other customer. The customer attempted to defend himself by disarming Mr. Potter at which time one round discharged from the firearm. Augusta Police arrived shortly after taking Mr. Potter into custody.”

Roberge said that shortly before 8 p.m. Monday, he was in a motorized cart passing the credit union on his way to transfer his groceries into a shopping cart to take them outside, when he noticed a loose boot lace on a man nearby.

“I said, ‘Your boot lace is untied, and I don’t want you to trip,'” he said.

Potter, whose name Roberge didn’t know until Tuesday, followed him as he transferred his groceries to the cart and crossed to the Dunkin’ Donuts counter to wait for a cab. Roberge said he couldn’t understand what Potter was saying.

“He aggressively grabbed my arm, and I told him, ‘You better let go of my arm now. He lifts up his shirt and pulls out a Glock 9 mm.”

Roberge said that’s when he grabbed the barrel with his left hand and pushed the gun down. In the struggle that followed, with Potter screaming at him to get down on the floor, they ended up behind the counter and in the back room of Dunkin’ Donuts. Roberge said he had no intention of getting down on the floor, where Potter could have overpowered him.

At one point, Roberge said, he tried to distract Potter. Still holding the barrel in his left hand, Roberge said he stuck out his right hand.

“I said, ‘My name’s Kevin. What’s yours?” Potter didn’t answer.

When the gun discharged, Roberge said it was pointed down at an angle; he didn’t know where the bullet ended up. He had powder burns on his hand Tuesday and a cut where the retracting slide caught him.

Their struggle brought them back out in front of the counter. When the police arrived, they ordered Potter to the ground, and he started shouting his military rank.

Roberge said he didn’t want to press charges, but police told him that wasn’t possible.

“The gentleman is a vet,” Roberge said. “He wasn’t together, mentally.”

WOMAN DIES IN PARKING LOT

Meanwhile, a woman who witnessed the altercation ran back to her car and suffered a medical event while inside her car, where officers went to provide emergency medical attention before Augusta fire and rescue workers arrived on scene, police said.

The woman, whose identity police did not release, died there. Mills said no evidence suggests the woman was associated directly with the situation inside Walmart or that she was anything other than a witness to what happened.

Mills said the woman’s name will not be released.

“It was a separate incident at this point pending the medical examiner’s report,” he said via email. “If we are given information that her death was as a result or connected to the incident inside then we would be able to release that.”

The incident prompted the store to be closed Monday night. Police had blocked the west entrance with crime scene tape, and Walmart employees in the parking lot informed people the store was closed.

On Tuesday, Walmart spokesman Charles Crowson said the company takes the security of shoppers and employees seriously.

“We have series of safety procedures in place for emergencies or times of imminent danger. Following last night’s disturbing incident, we immediately evacuated and closed the store in an abundance of caution,” Crowson said. “The store reopened today as of 6 a.m.”

The Augusta Walmart was the site last year of another incident involving shots being fired. Four people were arrested June 26, 2016, after an apparent drug-related incident during which, police said, two suspects fired guns at each other during a dispute in the store’s parking lot. The altercation was interrupted by two armed civilians who were in the parking lot at the time.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ