A 17-year-old boy from New York has been identified as the victim in an apparent  shooting early Thursday morning in Machias.

“The death is being ruled as a homicide,” Maine Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Shannon Moss said.

State police are investigating the incident that happened just after midnight on Thursday.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office received a complaint of what sounded like gunshots near High Street at approximately 12:24 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2021, according to Maine State Police. Neighbors had heard what sounded like gunfire or fireworks, but at least one said they thought at the time that it was kids “messing around.”

The sheriff’s department sent a deputy to High Street but did not locate any people or vehicles that seemed suspicious, Maine State Police said. Police returned to the scene later that morning after a woman who lives on High Street saw a deceased male on a nearby lawn a few minutes before 8 a.m. as she was leaving her home.

Additional details about the fatality, including the name of the victim, have not been released. Despite the reports of the sounds of gunfire early Thursday, Maine State Police have not confirmed that the boy was shot to death.

Police have not commented on whether they might have identified possible suspects, but have said they don’t believe there is an ongoing danger to the public.

An autopsy on the victim was performed Friday morning at the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta.

Anyone who has information about the incident or who saw something in the vicinity of High Street between midnight and 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, is asked to contact the Maine State Police at 207-973-3700 and leave a message for the lead detective, Det. Chad Lindsey.

Jenna Hudson, who lives on the corner of High and Pleasant streets, said Thursday that 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 saw two or 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 Thursday.

If it is confirmed that the boy was shot to death, it would be the fourth shooting homicide in the Machias area in less than two years.

In February 2020, Northfield resident Thomas Bonfanti was arrested on 3 charges of murder after he allegedlly shot three people in Machias, killing two of them, and shot and killed a third person in neighboring Jonesboro.

In that case, Bonfanti is accused of killing Shawn Currey, 57, of Machias; Jennifer Bryant Flynn, 49, of Machias; and Samuel Powers, 33, of Jonesboro, all of whom were shot at their homes. He also is charged with one count of aggravated attempted murder and one count of elevated aggravated assault in the shooting of Regina Hall Long, 49, who shared a home with Currey and was shot the same morning. Long survived her injuries.

Bonfanti’s trial is scheduled to be held in Belfast next May.

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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....