The death of a 51-year-old man whose body was found inside a Bangor rooming house has been ruled a homicide, authorities said. It is the city’s first homicide of the year.

Police found Israel Lewis dead in his room at 40 Second St. Wednesday morning after someone called 911 around 9:45 a.m.

The caller, whom police would not identify, had unsuccessfully tried to reach Lewis over the phone, according to Lt. Tim Cotton. The person called police after he or she went to Lewis’s apartment, looked through his street-facing, first-floor window, and spotted him lying on the floor.

The State Medical Examiner’s Office in Augusta ruled the death a homicide after conducting an autopsy on Thursday morning, Cotton said.

Police declined to release his cause of death, citing the ongoing investigation.

“We’re not going to talk about that right now,” Cotton said. “Obviously, we’re keeping some things to ourselves for the investigation.”

Bangor’s Criminal Investigation Unit, which is leading that investigation, have made no arrests.

Lewis, originally from Massachusetts, has lived in the Bangor area for some time, Cotton said. “We’ve met him, but he wasn’t someone we encountered all the time,” he said.

His death is the first killing since Terrance Durel, 36, was shot on Ohio Street on April 16, 2017, the city’s only murder last year. Antoinne Bethea, 41, of New Haven, is set to be tried for his death in August, and is currently held without bail at the Penobscot County Jail.

Over the years, police have responded to frequent calls to 40 Second St. and the surrounding neighborhood for “various issues, [including] drug activity, disputes, [and] fights,” Sgt. Wade Betters said.

About six people live there now, but residents move in and out of the house frequently, according to Jerome Smith, 56, a tenant, who lives directly above Lewis’ room.

Smith said residents mostly keep to themselves, and he was surprised to learn of Lewis’s death. People referred to Lewis as “Izzy,” he said.

“He was cool,” he said. “We didn’t suspect anything out of the ordinary.”

Before police arrived Wednesday morning, Smith said he awoke to a text message from Lewis’s girlfriend, asking if he knew where Lewis was. Smith said he didn’t know, and he didn’t bother to check Lewis’s downstairs apartment.

Police arrived soon after, and asked him and other residents to leave, he said.

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Callie Ferguson

Callie Ferguson is an investigative reporter for the Bangor Daily News. She writes about criminal justice, police and housing.