FARMINGDALE — Paul A. Fritze, mad at his neighbor for refusing to play cards, held a gun to the man’s head and then tried to shoot his way into a bedroom where a woman hid a closet.

A Maine State Police trooper later shot Fritze in the head, killing him, following an hours-long standoff.

Attorney General William Schneider disclosed those details Monday after a five-month-long investigation determined trooper Timothy Black was justified in shooting Fritze in September. Black reasonably believed he was protecting the lives of his fellow officers when he shot and killed Fritze outside the neighbor’s Bowman Street home, the investigation concluded.

Fritze, 41, raised a loaded 9-millimeter handgun toward police when Black fired the single fatal shot, according to the attorney general’s report.

“At the time trooper Black fired the shot at Mr. Fritze, it was reasonable for trooper Black to believe that deadly force was imminently threatened against other officers,” the report states.

According to the attorney general’s report, the events leading up Fritze’s shooting on Sept. 24, happened as follows:

Investigators believe Fritze spiraled out of control after the neighbor declined his request to play cards. The neighbor said it was his birthday and he wanted to relax.

Fritze responded with text messages, some of which were offensive. Later, around 4:30 p.m., Fritze walked the short distance from his home at 168 Bowman St. to his neighbor’s home at 210 Bowman St.

Holding a handgun to the man’s head, Fritze ordered him to go inside and sit at the kitchen table.
Fritze smoked a cigarette as the men sat. The gunman then ordered the neighbor to call his housemate from her bedroom before forcing the man down into the basement. The man was able to flee out a basement window.

Meanwhile, the woman locked herself in her bedroom and hid in a closet, frantically calling 911. Fritze fired several shots into the door when the woman refused to come out. The woman got to a sliding glass door and onto a raised deck, where she was met by the housemate, who helped her to the ground.

The fatal shot

Fritze was still in the house when Black and the other members of the Maine State Police Tactical Team arrived around 6:30 p.m. Black, from his position about 130 feet from the house, had a clear view of the home’s main entrance and driveway.

A crisis negotiator made several unsuccessful attempts to contact Fritze by telephone and loudspeaker over the next two hours. Black’s team members made plans to get closer to the house using an armored vehicle for cover.

When Fritze eventually emerged from the house and stood on an outside deck, Black could only see the gunman from the waist up. Black could see Fritze was holding something in his hand, but he couldn’t see what it was.

Fritze went back into the house and then returned to the deck.

“This time, trooper Black saw a black pistol in his right hand through the scope on his rifle,” the report states. “He saw Mr. Fritze turn, raise the weapon toward the armored vehicle and shout, ‘I don’t have a (expletive) phone if you want a gun battle here.’

“Fearing that Mr. Fritze would shoot tactical team members near the armored vehicle, trooper Black fired one shot at Mr. Fritze. The round struck Mr. Fritze, who fell to the deck. The single shot was fatal.”

A medical examiner’s report after the shooting said Fritze was shot in the head.

Fritze was carrying a Beretta 9-millimeter semi-automatic pistol with one round in the chamber and 11 more in the gun’s magazine. He had additional rounds in his pocket.

Investigators determined he fired at least 12 rounds at the woman’s door, including one in the doorknob, which they believe was an attempt to force his way into the bedroom.

Fritze had to reload the gun at least once between firing at the door and confronting police.

Police found a second gun in the basement that they believe also belonged to Fritze.

Earlier struggles

Tests revealed that Fritze’s blood alcohol content was 0.28 percent, according to the report. The legal limit for driving in Maine is 0.08.

Shortly after shooting, Zina Fritze said her brother had a history of substance abuse and mental illness, and that he had stopped taking his medication in 2009 and started drinking to cope with emotional and financial struggles.

Paul Fritze, who received Social Security and disability benefits from the state, moved in 2002 into the Bowman Street house owned by his father, Paul V. Fritze, who died in April.

Zina Fritze, who could not be reached for comment Monday, has previously said that her brother had a hard time accepting their father’s death.

“He was distraught, he was depressed and he a had a lot of problems,” Zina Fritze said in September. “But I don’t think he ever meant to hurt anybody.”

Paul Fritze was sent to prison for five years in 1993 after he commandeered a bus with passengers at gunpoint in New Jersey.

Fritze was later convicted in Maine on federal charges of possession of a firearm by a felon and sentenced to 41 months in federal prison and 36 months of supervised release. A New Jersey probation officer once described Fritze as dangerous, “a time bomb and an accident waiting to happen” when in possession of a firearm, according to a published report at the time.

Zina Fritze said her brother once told her the only place he ever felt safe was in prison.

“He didn’t want to be on the outside,” she said. “That’s probably what he was trying to do, go back to prison. He was not a monster. He just couldn’t deal with life anymore.”