November 5, 2012

Auburn standoff ends with man under arrest

Police had evacuated the mall and the Shaw's supermarket during the armed five-hour conflict.

By David Hench
Staff Writer

AUBURN A man who threatened to kill himself with a gun in the parking lot of a Shaw's supermarket Monday surrendered to police after holding them off for hours.

Police said Randolph Nutter, 45, of Auburn snatched a woman's purse and then locked himself in a gray Jeep Cherokee, threatening to kill himself.

Police evacuated the Auburn Mall and the supermarket while other officers surrounded the Cherokee with guns drawn.

Auburn Police Chief Philip Crowell said Nutter surrendered peacefully just before 4 p.m., getting out of the vehicle and walking to police negotiators.

The Cherokee was then searched.

Nutter was taken to St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston for a psychiatric evaluation, Crowell said.

He was then taken to the Androscoggin County Jail.

Nutter was charged with theft by unauthorized taking and criminal threatening.

A jail intake worker said Nutter's bail had been set at $1,060 cash.

It was not clear Monday why Nutter initially refused to surrender or why he threatened to kill himself.

Streets around the supermarket were reopened to traffic Monday evening.

During the standoff, police used a bullhorn to tell the man to throw his keys out the window and offered to get him help, said Kayt DeMerchant, who was shopping when the incident began around noon.

DeMerchant was getting groceries at Shaw's when an announcement was broadcast in the store for shoppers to check out immediately and leave by the exit farthest from the mall.

Her car was closer to the mall.

"You could immediately see a bunch of people standing outside and there were cop cars everywhere, in a big circle in between the mall and Shaw's," she said.

"Several of the cops I saw had their guns drawn."

As she made her way to the car with her groceries, people warned her not to proceed.

"Luckily, a policeman saw me and assisted me steering clear of any danger and heading toward my car," she said.

"Once I was in, he just said to find the quickest way out of the parking lot."

-- Staff Writer Jessica Hall contributed to this report.

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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