Investigators walk around the house in Bowdoin where four people were killed on April 18. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer

Dispatch centers across southern Maine received more than two dozen emergency calls related to the mass shootings in Bowdoin and Yarmouth on April 18, but the heavily redacted documents do little to shed new light on the day’s events.

The transcripts, which the Press Herald obtained Friday through a public records request from the Maine State Police, seem to reference both the quadruple homicide at the Bowdoin home of Bob and Patti Eger and a spray of gunfire on Interstate 295 in Yarmouth that wounded three people. Joseph Eaton, the son of victims David and Cynthia Eaton, was charged with four counts of murder after police say he confessed to shooting his parents and the Egers, their longtime family friends.

State police have shared limited information about the shootings, leaving unanswered questions about a suspected motive, the type of weapon or weapons that were used, how the weapons were acquired and why Eaton traveled south after leaving the Bowdoin crime scene. The documents released Friday, though numerous and sometimes lengthy, do not address any of these points because of heavy redactions.

A portion of a 911 transcript on April 18 was heavily redacted by Maine State Police.

Maine police agencies have long been reluctant to release information about sensitive crimes, even when records are public under Maine law. A decade ago, the Press Herald won a major victory for transparency when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court agreed the public had a right to view emergency call transcripts, though not recordings, related to homicides. But earlier this year, federal and state officials refused to release transcripts of numerous calls falsely claiming there had been shots fired at high schools around the state.

Maine’s public records laws allow law enforcement agencies to withhold records in a handful of specific circumstances, including in cases where the documents could interfere with criminal investigations or court proceedings, reveal police investigative techniques or endanger public safety officials. Paul Cavanaugh, the attorney for the Maine Department of Public Safety, did not provide a specific justification for the redactions beyond citing legal statutes and did not respond to an email Friday evening asking about why so much information was hidden.

One transcript from 10:36 a.m. on the day of the shootings suggests the caller was a driver on I-295 whose passenger was among those shot. But information about the status of the passenger, the type of car they were driving and where they were located is all redacted.


Sean Halsey and his adult children Paige Halsey and Justin Halsey were all shot while driving on the interstate on their way to buy groceries. Though Paige and Justin suffered serious injuries, both are expected to recover.

The unredacted portion from another transcript indicates the caller saw the shooter with a gun before driving away. The caller answered questions about what type of gun the shooter had and whether they saw the shooter fire the gun, but that information is redacted.

Another transcript of a call from 9:21 a.m. seems to describe a report from someone who had learned of the crime scene in Bowdoin but who wasn’t present themself. But other than comments like “Hello,” and “Yup,” almost nothing the caller said in the seven-page document is unredacted and is essentially unreadable.

A few untouched questions asked by dispatchers, including “Who do you think is the deceased?” and “There’s another bullet hole?” are the only clues as to the content of the conversation.

Only one of the 30 transcripts contained no redactions; at 11:46 a.m., about an hour after the interstate shootings, a caller told police where on the highway they should start turning people around.

“Ma’am, I understand. They’re well aware on how to turn traffic around. They’re working on it. They have to deal with their victims first,” the dispatcher said.

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