Lights illuminate part of High Street in Machias and an adjacent yard as Maine State Police detectives examine the scene where a dead person was found Thursday morning, hours after neighbors heard nearby gunfire. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

A dead person was found by the side of High Street early Thursday morning, hours after people who live nearby heard gunfire.

Police had cordoned off the street Thursday afternoon with yellow tape, forcing traffic to take an alternate route to get from one end of High Street to the other. Detectives with Maine State Police were using a drone and metal detectors to document and search for evidence a few yards away from where the body was found in the yard of 21 High St.

Lt. Darrin Crane of the Maine State Police Major Crimes Unit confirmed Thursday evening that police were investigating a death but he declined to release any other details about what happened. He said an autopsy will be conducted Friday morning at the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta.

Crane said detectives will continue to be on scene collecting evidence into the night for “as long as it takes.” He said no more details are expected to be released until Friday.

There is no ongoing danger to the public, according to Maine State Police spokesperson Shannon Moss.

Jenna Hudson, who lives on the corner of High and Pleasant streets, said she heard loud pops outside her bedroom window around midnight. She then went downstairs, thinking someone was playing a prank by setting off fireworks, and yelled at people she saw standing in the street.

“I thought it was kids messing around,” Hudson said “I said ‘what are you doing?’”

She said she heard mumbling coming from across the street and rustling in the leaves after hearing the popping noises. She said she saw at least two or maybe three people standing in High Street who, after she yelled, ran to a white SUV a few feet away.

“They said ‘let’s get out of here!” and then drove off, Hudson said.

Hudson said it wasn’t until later Thursday morning that anyone saw the body lying across the road. She said she took her kids to school and came back home before police showed up and started blocking off the scene with crime scene tape.

She said she is not sure who first reported the body lying in the grass.

Hudson said she was not concerned for her safety or her family’s safety at the time. In retrospect, she added, going downstairs to yell at people who may have just shot somebody might not have been prudent.

“Hindsight is 20-20,” she said.

Part of Court Street cemetery, which abuts the property where the body was found, also was blocked off by police tape Thursday afternoon. Detectives searched the fallen leaves next to the cemetery fence as they tried to find clues about what happened.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....