A domestic violence suspect who police believed was armed led officers on a chase through parts of Gorham and Standish on Sunday before driving his sport utility vehicle off Route 114, authorities said.

Police said they later found the man dead inside his SUV, which came to rest in trees and vegetation in Standish, but it was not clear how he died. The state medical examiner’s office is scheduled to perform an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Gorham police issued a news release Sunday evening about the incident, but declined to identify the man pending notification of his relatives. Lt. Dana Thompson said the man had been threatening suicide.

Thompson said the incident began around 2:35 p.m. when a 30-year-old woman called police to say that her ex-boyfriend was threatening violence toward her and her parents. She told police her ex-boyfriend was also threatening suicide. A Gorham police officer who arrived at the home on Mighty Street observed a man at the wheel of a black GMC Yukon, parked in the roadway outside the residence.

“The suspect had stopped in front of the victim’s parents’ residence and from inside the vehicle the suspect appeared to be engaged in an animated verbal argument with three people standing alongside the SUV,” Gorham police said.

The officer activated his emergency lights, prompting the man to drive around the cruiser and flee in the direction of Route 114. The three witnesses warned the officer that the suspect was in possession of a firearm, police said. Gorham police then pursued the SUV along Route 114 into Standish.

A deputy from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office deployed a spike mat, but the suspect was able to avoid it and continued driving west. The pursuit continued westbound on Route 114, in the direction of Sebago, for several miles until the SUV left the roadway while traveling at a high speed. Thompson said the SUV came to rest in trees and vegetation.

Officers set up a perimeter around the vehicle and tried to communicate with the driver in an effort to safely resolve the situation. It wasn’t until a few hours had passed – at about 5:45 p.m. – that police located the deceased suspect inside the vehicle. Gorham police did not say whether the driver committed suicide or died as the result of injuries he received when his SUV left the roadway.

Maine State Police and tactical team members from the sheriff’s office and Gorham Police Department responded. Route 114 was closed for several hours. The incident remains under investigation.

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