AUGUSTA — A knife-wielding Augusta man shot by police Monday was a Riverview Psychiatric Center patient who had been placed in state custody in 2003 after stealing an airplane and crashing it in Canada.

Jason Begin, 36, was shot Monday afternoon inside the offices of the outpatient clinic run by Riverview’s Assertive Community Treatment team, located in the former MaineGeneral Medical Center building on the city’s east side.

Deputy Chief Jared Mills, of the Augusta Police Department, said the shooting occurred when Officer Laura Drouin responded to mental health professionals’ request to help take Begin to the Riverview hospital, which is about a mile down the road, to the south. Begin had been living outside the hospital grounds in Augusta for more than a year as part of a group residential program and was being treated in an outpatient clinic run by the community treatment team.

Mills said Begin was armed with a knife that he displayed after Drouin arrived. Mills would not disclose additional details about the shooting Tuesday except to say “there was an armed confrontation, at which point Officer Drouin was forced to use deadly force.”

Begin was listed in critical but stable condition at MaineGeneral Medical Center as of Monday night, Mills said. Begin was being treated for at least one gunshot wound, though Mills was unsure how many. A hospital spokesman said Tuesday that Begin’s condition, according to the clinical administrator, is listed as “undetermined.”

Mills, who visited Drouin on Monday night, said the officer was coping in the aftermath of what he described as a tragedy that affects Begin’s family, the witnesses and Drouin herself.

“Under the circumstances, she’s doing OK,” Mills said. “My heart, personally, goes out to her. There are a lot of people affected by this tragedy.”

Begin made headlines in September 2003 when he hot-wired a plane at an airfield in Turner and flew to Canada before crashing near Montreal when the airplane ran out of gas. Begin, then 25 and without a pilot’s license, suffered minor injuries and spent several months in jail in Canada before being returned to the U.S., according to published reports.

Investigators theorized that Begin, who lived in Lewiston, fled to escape gross sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact charges in Androscoggin County, while a Riverview report in 2005 quoted Begin as calling the plane incident an elaborate suicide attempt. Under an agreement between prosecutors and defense attorneys, the sexual assault charges were later dropped and Begin was found not criminally responsible because of mental illness in connection with the theft of the plane and violating conditions of release. Begin reportedly had been off his psychotropic medication in September 2003 and “suffered auditory and visual hallucinations that were later controlled by medication,” according to the Riverview report.

State experts testified in 2004 that Begin was diagnosed with schizophrenia, depression and a developmental disorder similar to autism. On Aug. 2, 2004, he was placed at Riverview, the state forensic hospital that treats the mentally ill who are convicted of crimes or found not criminally responsible.

Begin has lived in supervised group residential housing, and his medication is administered by the staff there. He reports regularly to the Riverview Assertive Community Treatment team, and he meets with a psychiatric provider every 14 days with a minimum of one visit each month with the team’s psychiatrist.

He attempted suicide at Riverview in the fall of 2011 by hanging himself in the shower, according to an October 2012 institutional report. During his time at Riverview, he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder that began in childhood.

Begin was authorized in October 2013 to be released from the Riverview hospital grounds and placed in a group residential program under an order from Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy. Begin is required to attend sex offender group therapy, according to his Riverview reports. A 2012 report by Riverview personnel says Begin “has been a victim as well as a perpetrator in sexual offending behaviors but has no convictions as a sex offender.”

“Mr. Begin’s participation in treatment is voluntary, as he recognizes that ongoing sexual offender treatment is in his best interest,” the report said.


The shooting on Monday was reported shortly after 3:40 p.m. inside the former hospital building. Initial emergency dispatches said at least one person was bleeding from the chest, and there also was a report of a person suffering knife wounds to the arms and chest.

The Maine Office of the Attorney General is investigating the shooting, which is standard procedure for all shootings involving a law enforcement officer.

Mills refused on Tuesday to elaborate on the specifics of the confrontation or those initial emergency dispatches, citing the ongoing investigation by the attorney general’s office.

“I’m actually not privy to exactly what happened,” Mills said. “That’s part of our protocol.”

Mills said the shooting took place in an office at the Ballard Center, which is the former MaineGeneral Medical Center campus on East Chestnut Street. He said the office is staffed by members of Riverview’s Assertive Community Treatment team, an outpatient service operated by Riverview that includes mental health professionals who are not armed.

Begin, who lives in residential housing in the city, was visiting the office, Mills said, though he was not sure why Begin had gone to the office or whether he had gone there alone or had been taken there by Riverview staff members.

Riverview Superintendent Jay Harper would not answer questions Tuesday about the incident and referred all questions to David Sorensen, spokesman for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Citing confidentiality reasons, Sorensen would not say why Begin was being returned to Riverview Psychiatric Center on Monday afternoon or why police were called to help. He also would not comment on whether Begin went to the clinic on his own or was taken there by the staff.

Mills said police initially were called to help the staff take Begin to the Riverview hospital because “staff was concerned there may be some issues with the transport.” Even so, Mills described the request as a “routine police escort” and said there was no indication to police that Begin was a danger.

Mills said employees were in the office when Begin displayed the knife, and he was unsure whether Begin ever threatened anyone except Drouin.

“One can surmise that they would have been in danger,” Mills said.

In response to questions Tuesday, Mills said Drouin had been trained to use a stun gun, but he didn’t know whether the officer had one when she responded to the call involving Begin.

Augusta police policy requires officers to undergo training in order to carry a stun gun, but department policy gives trained officers discretion as to whether to carry a stun gun.

Drouin was 20 when she joined the department May 14, 2012, after an eight-month internship. She graduated from the University of Maine at Fort Kent with a bachelor’s degree in public safety and an associate degree in criminal justice. Drouin’s husband, Anthony Drouin, is also a patrolman with the Augusta Police department.

The last shooting involving Augusta police occurred in May 2000 on Green Street when Stephen S. Ware, 37, of Augusta, pointed a shotgun at Officer Scott Taylor after Taylor ordered Ware to drop his weapon, according to an attorney general’s report. Ware opened fire at Officer Christopher Massey, who returned fire. Taylor subsequently shot Ware, who died of a head wound.

Mills said his department would provide Laura Drouin with “all the services she needs” to help her process the shooting.

“Obviously, this is an officer’s worst nightmare and it happened to one of our own,” Mills said. “We’re going to be behind her 100 percent.”


Augusta police officers also are instructed on how to interact with people with mental illness while training at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, and by agencies like NAMI Maine once the officer is on the job. The training has proved vital in Augusta, which is home to a large population of Riverview patients who live outside the hospital and in the community.

Two years ago the state eliminated funding for the Police Department’s intensive case manager. That manager, Greg Smith, had received extensive training in helping people experiencing a mental health crisis and became a familiar face to the people with whom the department deals.

Mills said the department is working actively to find the funding to fill the position.

“It’s something we need,” he said. “We’re working on getting that individual back.”

Mills said an intensive case manager probably would have gone with Drouin on the transport call, but it’s impossible to know how that might have changed the outcome. Mills said Begin is “familiar” to Augusta police officers, though he declined to specify whether the police contact involved criminal contact as well or requests to check on his welfare.

Attorney J. Mitchell Flick had requested a hearing on Begin’s behalf seeking modifications in Begin’s treatment program in a letter received by Kennebec County Superior Court on Dec. 4, 2014. Flick was in court on Tuesday and did not immediately return a call for comment.

Under the conditions of his modified release program, Begin has been permitted to participate in unlimited one-to-group, staff-supervised community activities. He also is authorized up to four hours of unsupervised community time to attend class at the University of Maine at Augusta and the Adult Education Learning Center and up to an hour unsupervised travel time to attend activities, plus community time supervised by members of his family who were approved as supervisors by his treatment team.

Begin had been working 30 hours a week as a cashier in Augusta and was awaiting a full-time, 40-hour position, according to court records.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

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Twitter: @CraigCrosby4