AUGUSTA — A Mercer man was arraigned on an assault charge Monday for allegedly being in a car with an accomplice who fired a gun at a Waterville apartment building Feb. 28 in a drive-by shooting that injured a 7-year-old girl.

Gavin T. Loabe

Gavin T. Loabe, 18, was allegedly with the person who shot at the building at 42 Summer St. in Waterville.

A bullet fired into the apartment building hit Emahleeah Frost, 7, who was treated for the wound before being discharged last week from Maine Medical Center in Portland. Some of the girl’s family members have said they do not know why someone would have shot at their apartment.

Although officials declined to comment Monday, details emerged in an Augusta courtroom. Those details suggested Loabe and his accomplice, whom authorities have not named, were out looking for a person identified only as “Mr. Vigue.” Loabe and his accomplice were reportedly looking to hurt “Mr. Vigue” because he had allegedly propositioned Loabe’s girlfriend for sex.

Lisa Whittier, defense attorney of the day Monday who was appointed to represent Loabe, argued police did not have probable cause to bring a charge of aggravated assault against Loabe.

“I don’t see anything in the affidavit that states the driver of his father’s car had a firearm and intended to use it,” Whittier said. “It does not indicate Mr. Loabe was aware a serious assault was going to take place. The state has to prove more than mere presence. It does not have probable cause. It was not foreseeable that this other person was going to start shooting at a house.”

No one with the name Vigue had been identified as of Monday evening.

Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, said Monday she could not discuss the case or confirm Monday’s arraignment of Loabe was related to the shooting of Emahleeah Frost.

A Waterville police officer stands at the bottom of the stairs to the second story of an apartment building at 42 Summer St., following the drive-by shooting of hooting Feb. 28 of Emahleeah Frost, 7. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Affidavits in the case, filed by the Waterville Police Department, have been impounded from public viewing at the request of the district attorney’s office.

Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey confirmed in a statement Monday night that Loabe’s arrest was in connection with the drive-by shooting that injured Emahleeah Frost.

“The arrest of Loabe was the result of a week-long investigation by (Waterville Police Department) detectives with the assistance of the Maine State Police and the Kennebec County District Attorney’s Office,” Massey wrote in the statement.

“The investigation is ongoing as detectives continue to follow-up on leads to piece together exactly how and why the shooting occurred and determine if there are other persons that may have been involved.”

Meanwhile, court testimony Monday indicated the pair — with the unnamed accomplice at the wheel of Loabe’s father’s car — drove by 42 Summer St., the address where Emahleeah Frost was shot, thinking “Mr. Vigue” was there. The accomplice reportedly fired at least one shot into the apartment building.

“The state believes they were trying to assault Mr. Vigue. They believed he lived in that apartment,” Assistant District Attorney Chris Coleman told Justice William Stokes in court Monday.

Coleman said earlier, “A firearm was shot, somebody was in fact hurt.”

Loabe was initially to be charged with attempted murder, but that charge was amended Monday, according to court documents and Stokes. Coleman said the state went forward only with an aggravated assault charge.

Whittier said Loabe did not know the unnamed accomplice had a gun or that the accomplice intended to shoot anyone.

Coleman countered that Loabe had admitted to authorities he and his accomplice went in search of “Mr. Vigue” with the intention of harming him and with the expectation there could be a confrontation.

Emahleeah Frost, 7, is recovering after being injured Feb. 28 in a drive-by shooting at her family’s apartment at 42 Summer St. in Waterville.

Emahleeah Frost was treated at Maine Medical Center for a bullet lodged between two vertebrae. The bullet remains in her back. She is wearing a chest and neck brace that her mother said helps relieve pain.

While Maloney said she could not comment on the facts of the case, she confirmed the investigation is ongoing and said charges ultimately would be determined by a Kennebec County grand jury.

Coleman said Monday that Loabe, as an accomplice to someone who meant to do bodily injury that could create a substantial risk of death, was rightfully charged with aggravated assault under Maine’s accomplice liability standards.

He said it was reasonably foreseeable to Loabe that there could be an aggravated assault. He noted someone did indeed get hurt, although that person was not the intended victim.

After extensive debate in court, Stokes ruled there was probable cause for the aggravated assault charge against Loabe — but just barely.

“It’s close,” Stokes said. “Certainly there is reason to believe that Mr. Loabe and an accomplice were en route to this address to commit an assault, how bad it was (going to be), who knows? There is nothing in the affidavit that clearly indicates Mr. Loabe was aware this accomplice is armed with a gun.

“They are acting in concert, one could infer he knows the other person is armed but that’s an inference and the affidavit is not strong, in terms of what else was sort of planned between them as they approach the address.”

Waterville police arrested Loabe on Friday evening, and his bail was initially set at $750,000 cash, according to court documents.

Stokes reduced Loabe’s bail Monday to $5,000 cash, with conditions he not have contact with anyone on a list of people — a document that was also impounded by the courts.

Loabe was not able to make bail and was being held Monday at the Kennebec County jail in Augusta.

Waterville police asked that anyone who witnessed the shooting Feb. 28 or who has information about it call the Waterville Police Department at 207-680-4700.

 

Morning Sentinel staff writer Molly Shelly contributed to this report.

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