Gorham police have identified the man who died after leading police on a chase through two towns Sunday afternoon.

Joseph A. Cleaves Jr., 32, of Windham was a suspect in domestic violence and terrorizing incident, Lt. Dana Thompson of the Gorham Police Department said in a news release.

Police officers pursued Cleaves’ SUV from a home on Mighty Street in Gorham onto Route 114 in Standish. Officers set up a perimeter around Cleaves’ SUV after it went off the highway and came to rest against trees and vegetation. A couple of hours passed before police were able to determine that Cleaves was dead.

Thompson said officers used extreme caution about approaching the SUV because they were uncertain whether Cleaves still had a weapon, something the domestic violence victims had warned them about.

“There was a real concern that he was still armed,” Thompson said in an email.

The state Medical Examiner’s Office was scheduled to conduct an autopsy to determine his cause of death, but those results had not been released as of Monday evening. Witnesses involved in the domestic violence confrontation told police that Cleaves, in addition to threatening violence against them, was threatening to kill himself.

The domestic violence incident began around 2:40 p.m. Sunday when Gorham police received a call from a woman who told police her ex-boyfriend was threatening violence toward her and her parents. She also reported that he was threatening take his own life. When Gorham police officers arrived, they saw a black GMC Yukon parked outside the home. Cleaves, the driver, was arguing with three people, who later told police that Cleaves was armed.

Cleaves fled when he saw the cruisers. His body was found inside the SUV around 5:45 p.m. Sunday.

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