Michael Brown, the Presque Isle man who died in a shootout with police in New Hampshire last week while on the run from sexual assault charges, had long needed help for substance abuse, according to his sister.
In an interview Monday, Colleen Brown said that her brother was hard-working and loving, but that his criminal history of thefts and domestic abuse stemmed from alcohol and drug use, including heroin and methamphetamine.
“He could not even handle one drink,” Brown said. “He was a very motivated individual, but hung out with the wrong crowd.”
Michael Brown, 40, died early Friday morning June 16, in Newton, New Hampshire, after leading authorities on a one hour chase on I-495 that ended in a crash and a shootout.
Police in Presque Isle had been looking for Brown for more than a week, as he was accused of a sexual assault reported on June 7. A detective with the department contacted Brown by phone about that charge, and Brown agreed to meet with him at the police station. But Brown skipped the meeting and later fled Aroostook County in a truck stolen from his uncle in Westfield, according to his sister.
He was driving that truck when he was spotted by police in Massachusetts on Thursday, June 15, and wound up leading officers on a one-hour long chase into Newton, New Hampshire, where he crashed and was killed in an exchange of gunfire with troopers.
“I don’t think he wanted to commit suicide,” Colleen Brown said this week. “I do think that yes, he wanted it to go down that somebody else shot him, because I don’t think that he could bring himself to it.”
At the same time, Brown said she thinks the violent police confrontation “could have been prevented.” She said she has been left wondering if police could have found him sooner by issuing an arrest warrant earlier or using police dogs, or if local friends of his, who she believes helped him hide from police, had not done so.
Detective Kris Beck of the Presque Isle Police Department could not immediately be reached for comment to respond to the allegations.
Brown said her brother’s problems with drugs started in his teens while they were growing up in Limestone. He soon got involved with petty crimes associated with his drug use and later struggled in relationships which sometimes turned violent.
In 2008, Brown was convicted for a 2007 kidnapping of a girlfriend in Presque Isle and sentenced to 12 years in prison with all but five years suspended, according to Bangor Daily News archives. In 2012, he was convicted of domestic violence assault and criminal threatening for another incident in Waterville and was sentenced to three years in prison.
“When Michael would get out of prison,” Colleen Brown said, “he would seem to do good for a while, and then fall into the same situation: get into drugs and alcohol and domestic abuse.”
Brown said her brother left behind five daughters. “Two of the girls are having a really hard time because they spent a lot of time with their dad.”
She said she also is thinking about what could have been done to help her brother with his problems. “Maybe he couldn’t find a way to get the help he needed,” she said.
“I wish I would have got to say goodbye to my brother. We were very close growing up.”