Lewiston Police Chief Brian O’Malley updates the news media Monday afternoon about gunfire and arrests last weekend on Walnut Street. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

LEWISTON — The arrests of three people Saturday following early morning gunfire is part of a larger drug-trafficking problem in the inner city, Police Chief Brian O’Malley said Monday during a news conference at which he called on residents to help police address the problem and make the neighborhood safer.

On Saturday, police arrested three people after reports of gunshots and a morning standoff on Walnut Street. The gunfire was exchanged between several people at 21 Walnut St., O’Malley said.

Police continue to collect evidence and interview residents, and O’Malley asked anyone with information to contact the department.

“Detective Tyler Michaud, who is leading up the investigation, conducted more than 15 interviews, and everyone was very uncooperative,” O’Malley said.

“We’re asking the community to call us if there’s anything you can share to help us in the investigation. If you see something suspicious or suspect there’s a lot of traffic going into a neighbor’s apartment, let us know.”

Four guns were confiscated, including one stolen in Minot in November, O’Malley said.

Benjamin Alan Brown, 28, of East Boston, Massachusetts, was charged with Class C reckless conduct with a firearm, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Elisha Felix Rios, 19, of Jersey City, New Jersey, was treated at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston for a gunshot wound to the leg. He was arrested after being released from the hospital and placed on a probation hold related to a gun-related conviction.

Shantel P. Chisholm, 25, of Lewiston but formerly of Jersey City, was charged with violating conditions of release, a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to six months in jail.

It all started at about 3 a.m. Saturday, when police received calls reporting gunshots and fighting.

“Officers immediately responded to learn some of those involved had fled into an apartment building at 21 Walnut St., and (police) surrounded the building,” according to a Lewiston police statement at 9 a.m. Saturday.

A Maine State Police tactical team also responded to the location.

At 8:30 a.m., police were using a loudspeaker to order residents on the second floor of the apartment building at 21 Walnut St. to come out of the building.

Later Saturday, police announced the arrests of the three suspects.

St. Pierre said that after executing search warrants at the scene, police recovered four handguns, numerous shell casings, more than 50 grams of heroin, $1,000 in suspected drug proceeds and other potential evidence.

The report of gunshots Saturday morning at the Walnut Street apartment building was the second time in two months gunfire was reported at that building, police said. Shots were reported in December, but police were unable to get witnesses to cooperate with the investigation.

O’Malley said “a group of out-of-state individuals moved to Lewiston recently, and it seems that a lot of the violence in that area is associated with drug trafficking.”

He added that Chisholm “seems to be (the person) bringing a lot of these problems into that apartment.”

“Hopefully, after this, she’ll be evicted,” O’Malley said.

He added that officers have been trying to reach the landlord of the building, who lives out of state, to look into evicting other tenants who may be causing problems.

O’Malley said to help combat the burgeoning drug-trafficking and violence issue in Lewiston, an FBI agent with the Safe Streets Task Force will be assigned “permanently” to Lewiston to assist in the investigation, along with agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives and the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.

“We’re working on renovating some space so the FBI agent, agents with the ATF and MDEA and our undercover officer can have a place to work together and share information,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley said the Lewiston Police Department has been “reactive so far, in terms of making arrests, but we’re looking forward to more resources so we can become more proactive in our investigation.”

He added that police “can’t arrest our way out of drug trafficking.”

“We can arrest people for (the) violence that comes with trafficking, but we also need to work on curbing substance abuse issues in the area,” O’Malley said. “That’s where the demand for drugs comes from, and that’s what we need to focus on.”

O’Malley said more charges and arrests may be coming later this week.

Related Headlines

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under:

Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.