SKOWHEGAN — A Norridgewock man has been indicted by a Somerset County grand jury on felony charges related to what officials called a “very scary” police standoff in December in which he allegedly said he would commit “suicide by cop” and threatened people with a loaded handgun at a convenience store.

Donald L. Bessey, 67, of Smithfield Road, is charged by the grand jury with two counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, both class C felonies punishable by up to five years in prison on each count. He also is charged with failure to sign a police summons, a misdemeanor.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt but is a determination that enough evidence is present in a case to proceed with a trial.

Bessey’s bail initially was set at $50,000 cash. He was released Dec. 27 on $25,000 cash bond and has enrolled in the Somerset County Community Corrections Program.

The Somerset County Sheriff’s Office described the standoff — which ended with Bessey being subdued by a stun gun — as a “very scary situation” and “one of the more intense” such incidents authorities have encountered.

The incident began to unfold after Bessey allegedly called police dispatch saying that he wanted police to come to his house “because when they arrived he was going to shoot them” and “that he wanted law enforcement to then kill him,” and he then hung up, the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office said at the time.

When a dispatcher called back, a woman who was a family member said Bessey had been drinking and was outside the home with a handgun.

County deputies, Maine State Police and Fairfield police officers went to the area and set up a perimeter. Meanwhile, a state police negotiator got Bessey on the phone and they started talking, but Bessey did not cooperate and ultimately terminated the call.

Bessey then allegedly left his home and headed to downtown Norridgewock, where a 911 call was placed from the Cumberland Farms store, and where a man — later identified as Bessey — had entered the store with a gun and was ordering customers out, saying police were looking for him. Bessey also grabbed a bottle of liquor and started drinking it, police said.

A store clerk locked herself in a bathroom during the incident, calling her father and “stating she thought she was going to die,” police said. The indictment names a man and a woman whom Bessey allegedly threatened.

Two Maine State Police officers, Sgt. Blaine Bronson and Trooper Bernie Campbell, were near the store and soon arrived there, convincing Bessey to come outside. Bessey, armed with a loaded handgun, refused police commands to drop his gun and continued to threaten to kill the officers either by shooting them or running them over in his truck, police said.

Police cordoned off the store area, near the intersection of U.S. Route 2 and Route 139, and started evacuating some nearby homes.

As the state police troopers talked to Bessey, he started to walk around his truck toward police, and Cpl. Gene Cole of the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office saw a chance to get behind Bessey by using the vehicle as cover. Cole deployed his Taser stun gun on Bessey, subduing the man and ending the armed standoff, police said.

The whole incident was over in 10 or 15 minutes, police said at the time.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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