The man who died Sunday night during a police standoff in Mexico was killed by rounds fired by police, according to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner.

Steven R. Piirainen, 52, of South Paris, died after exchanging gunfire with Maine State Police Trooper Paul Casey and Mexico Reserve Officer Dean Benson, said a spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

Police initially said they could not determine for certain whether Piirainen died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound or after being shot by police, and referred inquiries to the state medical examiner.

That office on Tuesday afternoon said Piirainen died from gunshot wounds to the head and neck but did not say how many times he was shot. It also said the wounds were not self-inflicted.

The incident was the sixth officer-involved shooting in Maine this year.

Piirainen allegedly stole a pickup truck in Paris and led police on a chase that ended about 7 p.m. Sunday at a convenience store in downtown Mexico, police said.

Officers from the state police, the Mexico and Rumford police departments, and deputies from the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office surrounded the pickup and closed off the area around the Circle K store on Main Street. Piirainen remained inside the pickup during the standoff and police didn’t confirm he was dead until shortly before 11 p.m. No police officers or bystanders were injured.

The Maine Attorney General’s Office is investigating the shooting, as it does in all uses of deadly force by police.

Piirainen had an extensive criminal record, which included convictions for burglary, felony theft, domestic violence and aggravated assault, and he faced pending charges of theft, burglary to a motor vehicle and criminal trespass, according to the State Bureau of Identification.

From 2000 to December 2012, police in Maine fired their guns at 71 people, striking 57 of them. Thirty-three of those people died. A review of the 57 shootings by the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram in 2012 found that at least 24, or 42 percent, involved people with mental health problems. Seven of the shootings were alcohol-related. Two involved drugs.

Of the 33 people killed, at least 19, or 58 percent, had mental health problems.

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.