AUGUSTA — Daniel Chavanne was walking out of Wal-Mart Sunday evening with his wife, daughter, son and mother when he heard the argument across the parking lot. They got inside their vehicle and started to back up when they heard the noise.

Four shots — “pop, pop, pop, pop!”

Carrie Chavanne said her husband, with a gun in his belt, stopped the car and got out.

“It didn’t take him long to think. It was instinct for him to get out and do what he did,” she said in an interview Monday with the Kennebec Journal.

Daniel Chavanne walked over to the nearby scene of the shooting and dispute, showed his Glock 42 pistol, announced he was armed and told those fighting to get down on the ground.

He kicked one of the guns away from a man on the ground and held it down with his foot.


“That was the moment, that was the situation that was there and I reacted. All life is valuable. All lives matter,” Daniel Chavanne said in an interview with television station WCSH. “If a situation is there, you have not just a personal responsibility but a civil responsibility to uphold the sanctity of the community.”

Less than a day after Chavanne helped break up a shooting and a fight in the Wal-Mart parking lot, Carrie Chavanne said it boiled down to this: “Seven minutes with guns are seven really bad minutes.”

Daniel Chavanne, 39, who works as a truck driver for Linda Bean’s Perfect Maine, and another armed passerby were legally carrying guns and are credited by police with halting the violent altercation among four people who are now under arrest on a variety of charges. But even though “it turned out OK and it didn’t escalate into more shooting,” Augusta Police Lt. Christopher Massey said Monday that “going forward, we would not encourage anyone to intervene.” Police said no one was injured by gunfire during the incident.

“From our standpoint,” Massey said, “everybody has a constitutional right under the Second Amendment to have a gun. In an incident like this, we certainly would tell people that they should get themselves and their families to safety and be a good witness.”

The tense situation and the involvement of armed bystanders in the Augusta incident comes in the wake of the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history at an Orlando nightclub and ensuing political debate about gun control and armed citizens.

Gov. Paul LePage, in a town hall meeting in Richmond last week, said he was not in favor of everyone running around with a gun, but he would protect his family with a gun if he had to. Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said armed people could have stopped the Orlando nightclub gunman.


Those questions played out online and in social media Monday as commenters debated whether armed civilians should intervene to stop shootings.

“The big thing for civilians to understand is that it’s a dangerous situation,” Pete Blair, executive director of Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training at Texas State University, said in an interview Monday. ALERRT was formed in 2002 to address the need for active shooter response training for first responders. In addition to training, the center has established a criminal justice research department.

“We’re not big advocates for civilians to find the bad guy and stop him,” he said, adding that dangerous situations can be complicated by the fact that more than one armed civilian could react to a shooting and it’s hard to identify all involved. “There are a lot of things to be aware of.”

But Todd Tolhurst, president of Gun Owners of Maine, said civilians usually know who the bad guy is: “It’s the one that just attacked them.”

Tolhurst said innocent bystanders could easily have been injured in Sunday’s Augusta shooting if Chavanne and the other bystander had not stepped up and stopped the altercation as soon as they did.

“Responsible gun owners do have training on what you have to do in the wake of a lawful defense,” he said, noting that both Daniel and Carrie Chavanne are members of Gun Owners of Maine. “If you look at the statistics regarding shootings of bystanders, it happens more often in police shootings than those with civilians. It happens, and I am not denigrating the police here.”


Carrie Chavanne said she and her family planned to pick up some groceries and have dinner at the home of Daniel’s mother, who was with them. While Carrie Chavanne is a gun owner, she didn’t have hers with her.

“We got there about 5,” Carrie Chavanne said Monday from the family’s home in Washington. “We were just coming out when we heard the argument going on. You hear arguing all the time, and you don’t want to pay attention.”

When Daniel Chavanne heard the shots and confronted the suspects, a second man who police have declined to identify, also walked up to what was by then a fistfight between two men — now identified by police as Kweasia “Reggie” McBride and Frankie Dejesus, on the ground. Chavanne said one of the women involved appeared to be breaking up the fight, but it also looked like she was joining in.

In the car, Carrie Chavanne said, her mother-in-law was calling 911. She tried twice and couldn’t get through, but eventually did.

McBride had backed off from the fight, but in doing so was getting close to the Chavannes’ vehicle. Chavanne said she stepped out of the vehicle and yelled at him. He appeared to be reaching for something while staring at Daniel Chavanne.

“I said my kids were in the vehicle. Don’t put my kids in danger,” she said, characterizing herself as a “shrieking banshee” woman. “My mother bear came right out. It wasn’t a nice yell. I didn’t let him close to the vehicle because if someone is carrying a gun, you don’t know if they are carrying more than one.”


She said he looked dumbfounded for an instant before he started chasing after the white Taurus that was leaving the scene.

When police arrived soon thereafter, both her husband and the other armed civilian were identified as not being part of the altercation.

The Chavannes remained in the parking lot for about two hours. After a brief stop at Barnes and Noble, they stopped at Denny’s restaurant for dinner.

Chavanne said both her children witnessed the events. Her daughter, 17, is fine. Her 7-year-old son, who is on the autism spectrum, is having a harder time.

Thinking about it now, she said, she realizes the people in the cars could have shot anywhere.

Even so, she said, they would intervene again.


“We value human life, and every life is worth saving,” she said. “It’s really easy to step in and help when someone needs groceries, but it takes someone special to step in and help in a situation like this. It wasn’t his job, but it was something he believed in. We’re very proud of him.”

Massey, the Augusta police lieutenant, said both Chavanne and the other man were legally “open carry,” he said, meaning carrying their weapons in plain view. Neither discharged their weapons.

“They were just people at Wal-Mart, shopping,” Massey said. “They did not approach when the shooting was going on.”

Under Maine law, state residents who are 20 and older are allowed to carry concealed weapons except where weapons are prohibited. For instance, they are banned in schools, federal buildings and private property when prohibited by the property owner.

Robert Schwartz, executive director for the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, said that such encounters as the Augusta incident could become more common as more people arm themselves. As a general rule, he said, “We like to have people stay out of (shooting situations) because it makes things more complicated.”

Even so, Schwartz said most gun owners are responsible, and if someone uses a gun in defense of his or her family, police will sort it out.


“This is the beginning of something that will be a concern for law enforcement,” he said. “There will be a discussion.”

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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