LEWISTON — Police scoured the woods next to the Maine Turnpike on Thursday afternoon after a despondent man ran into the woods there armed with a handgun.

More than a dozen officers searched for more than an hour before the 59-year-old man was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot.

During the tense hour-and-a-half of searching, police relied on an array of technology, including a private drone.

The drama began at about 2:30 p.m. when a Webber Avenue man was reported to be suicidal and armed with a 9mm handgun. Police responded but lost sight of the man as he dashed into the heavily wooded area between Lisbon Street and the turnpike.

A single gunshot was heard as police prepared to search for the man, but the officers proceeded carefully. They set up a perimeter around the area, using Google Maps and sending GPS coordinates to a dispatcher handling the call.

At the time, police said they did not know whether the man was alive or dead and that his intentions were unclear. Officers fanned out around the area, with some setting up along the turnpike, while others entered the woods at the dead-ends of Louise and Olive avenues.

A command post was assembled at the park-and-ride area near the Lisbon Street turnpike on-ramp.

As they searched, police contacted Sun Journal photographer Russ Dillingham, who operates a drone as part of his work. Dillingham launched the device from the park-and-ride and, with police officers looking over his shoulder, used the drone’s camera to scan the woods in the area where the man was last seen.

The area features dense woods, a small stream and a long trail that runs alongside a set of disused railroad tracks. The drone did not reveal the man’s location, but a short time later, at about 4 p.m., a police officer reported that he had found the man dead in the woods.

The name of the victim was not released. Police were speaking with the man’s family at the park-and-ride as the search ended.

 

A Lewiston police officer climbs up an embankment along Olive Avenue while searching for an armed and despondent man on Thursday evening. (Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover)

 

Robert Ullrich, right, of the Lewiston Police Department looks over the shoulder of Sun Journal photographer Russ Dillingham as Dillingham uses his drone to help search the woods for a 59-year-old man who was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot. Dillingham’s son, Ryan, is at left. (Sun Journal photo by Daryn Slover)


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