Records Help Court Foil Gunman's Plot

April 13, 2021 by Devin Culham

Records Help Court Foil Gunman's Plot

Whether it’s a bustling big city or a small quiet town, crime can happen anywhere or anytime, which is why public safety agencies do everything they can to protect themselves and the community.

The State of Maine Judicial Branch (MJB) is no different.

The MJB’s Office of Judicial Marshals covers 32 courthouses across the state, which offers its own unique set of challenges compared to many other agencies. Prior to implementing a statewide record system, MJB relied on person-to-person communication to share information regarding incidents or potential threats.

Fortunately, in the case of a recent incident at the Cumberland County Courthouse, officers were ready to respond.

“We had a situation where an individual came in and at entry screening was asked several times if he had any weapons on him,” recalled Mike Coty, the judicial marshal for the State of Maine. “He denied having anything on him, but he kept setting the magnetometer off.”

Knowing it was unlikely the machine malfunctioned, the judicial marshals at entry screening pressed for answers.

“The officers told him he had to empty his pockets and that’s when he mentioned that he had a firearm in his pocket,” said Coty. “At that point in time, they secured him and handcuffed him. He actually had several weapons on him, including two firearms and ammunition for both firearms.”

The individual’s behavior gave the officers clues there may be more to the story.

“He seemed upset about being stopped and was concerned about his vehicle,” shared Coty. “And he said he had weapons in his vehicle. As it turned out, he had parked his vehicle several blocks away and in that were other weapons and ammunition.”

With that level of firepower, officers had plenty of cause for concern.

“He stuck by his story that he had no intention of doing wrong, but it’s pretty hard to deny when you come to a courthouse for a traffic arraignment and you’re carrying two guns and a knife and have your vehicle several blocks away with more firearms,” Coty speculated.

Officers later determined that the suspect had planned to use the weapons at the courthouse.

“He definitely had plans, so we documented that,” said Coty. “We documented everything he said, photographs of him, the firearms, everything we had. And we were able to share that with all officers across the state.”

Before the recent technology upgrade, getting the word out to other officers would have taken much longer.

“That’s not something we would have been able to do before,” Coty mused. “That happened in Cumberland County. Four hours north in Fort Kent, it probably would have been a week before they knew about it. So, this way, everything was done pretty much instantaneously.”

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