WATERVILLE — Police took an Augusta man into protective custody Friday after they saw him waving a replica of a semi-automatic handgun in a supermarket parking lot on Main Street.

Waterville police Chief Joseph Massey said police could not tell from where they were standing that the weapon was a BB gun.

The man, Darren Costa, 47, was sitting on the ground and initially refused police orders to drop the weapon, according to Massey.

At one point, Costa reached into his jacket for what Massey said police suspected could be another gun.

Massey said the eight officers who went to the Hannaford supermarket lot in Elm Plaza should be commended for the restraint they showed in the dangerous situation.

“I have no doubt in my mind they would have been legally and morally justified if they used deadly force,” he said.

Massey said the officers were in a tense situation that required them to think on their feet and they may have put themselves in jeopardy by not using deadly force.

Massey said police received several calls around 12:30 p.m. about a large man in a black-and-white sweatshirt waving a gun. Several callers also reported that the man fell down several times and might have been intoxicated, Massey said.

When police officers arrived, they found Costa, who is 6 feet 8 inches tall and weighs 255 pounds, sitting in the parking lot with his hands at his sides. They could not see the gun initially, he said.

Costa did not obey orders to show his hands. He then raised his right hand and waved it around, and police saw the gun he was holding, Massey said. Continuing to ignore orders from the police, he also reached into his sweatshirt with his other hand, Massey said, and police feared he could be reaching for another weapon. Costa eventually dropped the gun and police took him into custody.

Massey said Costa had been committed to a hospital March 6 for psychiatric reasons after exhibiting bizarre behavior at a Waterville homeless shelter.

Kaitlin Schroeder can be contacted at 861-9252 or at: [email protected]

 

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