LAMOINE, Maine — Police shot and killed an armed Lamoine man Tuesday morning, ending a 6 ½ -hour manhunt that began when a family member reported the man had shot his father and uncle.
Police say Leon Tilden, 27, killed his relatives, whose bodies were discovered after Tilden’s mother called 911 around 3:30 a.m. to report the shooting.
State Police investigators were on scene Tuesday night at the Tilden family home at 16 Bobolink Lane, where police say the bodies were found.
The victims were Tilden’s father, Robert Tilden, 50, and uncle, Russell Pinkham, also 50.
Bobolink Lane is a gravel driveway off Mud Creek Road, at the end of which are two homes — one belongs to the Tilden family, the other to Pinkham. The homes are flanked by woods and open fields.
On Tuesday night, investigators in latex gloves swarmed one of the homes — a small, blue one-story building near an unfinished structure and a woodshop. A sheep grazed in the field.
Police did not release any information about a possible motive for Tilden allegedly shooting his family members, and said the on-scene investigation would continue into Wednesday morning. According to Lt. Col. Raymond Bessette of the Maine State Police, Leon Tilden’s mother Lori and brother Benjamin were in the home when Tilden fatally shot the two men.
Two deputies from the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 911 call and discovered the bodies of Pinkham and the senior Tilden.
“Both were deceased of gunshot wounds,” Bessette told reporters around 1 p.m. The deputies evacuated the remaining family members and called the Maine State Police, beginning a manhunt that lasted about 6 ½ hours.
Around 10 a.m., members of the Maine State Police Tactical Team encountered Tilden near the family home. The suspect was armed, Bessette said, when he was shot. Police are not releasing any details about the encounter, including whether Tilden fired at police before he was shot.
Tilden was shot by Detective Randall Keaten of the Maine State Police Tactical Team. After he was shot, he was taken by LifeFlight helicopter to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, where he was declared dead around 11:30 a.m.
“Our hearts go out to the surviving members of the family,” Bessette said.
Keaton is an eight-year veteran of the state tactical team. Following standard procedure, he will be placed on paid administrative leave while the attorney general’s office investigates his use of deadly force.
State police were aided in their manhunt by the Maine Warden Service, Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, Ellsworth Police Department, Marine Patrol and the state police’s crisis negotiation team and K-9 units.
The Major Crime Unit will investigate the initial double homicide, said Lt. Christopher Coleman. Police were not able to begin their investigation until the scene was secure.
The incident and manhunt shut down Mud Creek Road for much of Tuesday. It was opened again around 4:30 p.m.
The Lamoine town office served as a crisis counseling center for members of Tilden’s family on Tuesday morning, according to Stu Marckoon, administrative assistant to the Board of Selectmen. Marckoon said Tilden’s family left the town office shortly after the suspect was shot.
According to the Maine Bureau of Identification, no matches for Tilden are in the bureau’s criminal history database.
Information published during the past decade in the Bangor Daily News indicates that Tilden had been found guilty of roughly half-a-dozen minor offenses in Ellsworth District Court, dating back to 2004. Those offenses include criminal mischief, consumption of alcohol by a minor, and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license and without proof of financial responsibility. Tilden had been fined a total of $1,100 for those offenses, according to court records.
Many residents were wondering Tuesday morning how another fatal shooting could have happened in Lamoine — which has only 1,600 residents — in less than a year.
“This is certainly an anomaly of the way of life in Lamoine,” Marckoon said.
In March, four men were shot in an early-morning confrontation outside of house on Route 184.
Lawrence “Randy” Sinclair, 32, of Ellsworth, died in that shooting. Torrey Garland, 34, and Joshua McKinney, 25, both of Ellsworth, suffered gunshot wounds but have since recovered.
Michael Carter, 30, who lived at the house where the shooting occurred, is being held without bail at Hancock County Jail on charges of murder, elevated aggravated assault, aggravated assault and illegal possession of a firearm. Carter also was shot in the leg during the incident when Tacy Mullins, his girlfriend who lived with him at the home, tried to grab the gun away from him, police and witnesses have said. Carter also has recovered from his gunshot wound.
According to a police affidavit, the shooting in March was precipitated by a series of confrontational phone calls, primarily between Garland and Carter, over a paint job that Garland and McKinney recently had done on Carter’s truck.
On Tuesday, Carol Duffy, a fifth-grade teacher at Lamoine Consolidated School, said all the students were kept in the gym for about four hours during the manhunt, when the school was on lockdown.
Duffy, a 35-year veteran of the school, was a sixth-grade teacher when Leon Tilden was her pupil in 1997. She said she hadn’t seen Tilden since then, but that knowing that a former student met such a violent end is hard for a teacher.
“You feel sick to your stomach,” she said.
At the Lamoine General Store, Assistant Manager Stacey Dannenberg said Tuesday morning that local residents have been rattled by the latest outbreak of violence in the small coastal town.
“It kind of makes you wonder what happened to the quietness here,” she said.