ROCKLAND, Maine — A Rockland resident who shot an intruder in his apartment late Monday night said Tuesday he had purchased the gun only Monday.
The alleged intruder, Christopher Wildhaber, 45, of Rockland, was caught by police in the woods near the Park Street residence a short time after the confrontation, according to Rockland police Sgt. Don Finnegan. Police said Wildhaber put up a brief struggle before being subdued.
Wildhaber was taken to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport and then to Maine Medical Center in Portland to be treated for a gunshot wound to the shoulder. He since has been released from the hospital and is being held at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, according to Rockland police.
Harvey Lembo, the 67-year-old apartment dweller who shot Wildhaber, told the BDN on Tuesday morning the break-in marked the fifth time he had been the victim of a burglary in the six years he has lived at Park Place. The last time was a month ago, when medications and $1,000 in cash were stolen, Lembo said.
He said he purchased a 7 mm Russian-made revolver Monday but declined to say where he acquired it. He said he bought it because he was concerned he would continue to be the target of criminals looking to steal his prescribed medications.
Lembo said he is disabled and must use a motorized wheelchair to get around and believes that may be why some people think he is an easy target.
Lembo said he had the gun under his pillow around midnight Monday night when he was awoken by a sound in his apartment and then saw a shadow pass by his kitchen into the living room. Lembo took the gun and confronted the intruder, who was rifling through his medications.
While aiming the gun at the man, Lembo said, “I told him to sit down while I called police or I would blow his brains out.”
The intruder complied and sat on a coffee table while Lembo called 911.
While Lembo was on the phone with the public safety dispatcher, the intruder jumped up and Lembo said he fired a shot. The intruder fled out a back door, leaving a pool of blood, Lembo said.
Lembo said the shooting left him nervous, and he couldn’t sleep after the incident.
Police initially said they did not expect the resident of the apartment to be charged but later clarified the decision rests with the district attorney.
The case is under investigation, Finnegan said.
District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau was prosecuting a case in Lincoln County on Tuesday and was not immediately available for comment. Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald referred questions on the use of force in a person’s home to Rushlau.
State law outlines when it is permissible to use deadly force in defense of premises. The law states: “A person in possession or control of a dwelling place or a person who is licensed or privileged to be therein is justified in using deadly force upon another person: When the person reasonably believes that deadly force is necessary to prevent or terminate the commission of a criminal trespass by such other person, who the person reasonably believes: Has entered or is attempting to enter the dwelling place or has surreptitiously remained within the dwelling place without a license or privilege to do so; and is committing or is likely to commit some other crime within the dwelling place.”
The law further states: “A person may use deadly force under subsection 3, paragraph B only if the person first demands the person against whom such deadly force is to be used to terminate the criminal trespass and the trespasser fails to immediately comply with the demand, unless the person reasonably believes that it would be dangerous to the person or a 3rd person to make the demand.”
Wildhaber likely will be charged with burglary, Finnegan said. The suspect is being held on a possible probation violation, police said. Finnegan said he expected a warrant for Wildhaber’s arrest on a burglary charge would be obtained by the end of the day Tuesday, but he was not sure when the suspect would be brought back to the Knox County Jail to await a court appearance.
Wildhaber was convicted in 2011 of domestic violence assault and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. He also was convicted in February 2015 of felony domestic violence assault and sentenced to three years with all but nine months suspended. He was ordered to serve three years of probation upon his release on the latest conviction.