February 4, 2013

Jay fugitive who escaped police hit with tear gas and arrested

By Matt Hongoltz-Hetling mhhetling@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

JAY — Michael W. Gatcomb Jr., the 29-year-old man who eluded a police manhunt on Friday, was captured by a state tactical unit after an eight-hour-standoff at a North Jay mobile home Sunday night.

Police filled the home with tear gas before entering about 9:30 p.m. and found Gatcomb hiding beneath the kitchen sink.

Before entering the house, owned by Gatcomb’s sister, police tried to contact Gatcomb with a bullhorn and by calling his cellphone, but he did not respond, according to Jay Police Chief Larry White.

White said the tear gas was used because no one knew whether Gatcomb was armed.

During the arrest, Gatcomb struggled to escape, but no one was injured, White said.

Police surrounded the home, in the Pine Haven Trailer Park off Route 4, based on information given by a member of the public to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, but White said they couldn’t legally enter until a judge approved a search warrant.

“That’s when we got a little more aggressive,” he said.

He was arresed by the Jay Police Department and taken to Franklin County Jail.

On Friday afternoon, police saw Gatcomb riding in a pickup truck on Route 133. The truck driven his sister, Heather Gatcomb, was pulled over because he was wanted on several warrants.

As the truck stopped, Gatcomb fled into the woods and evaded capture during a manhunt that continued into Friday night. At the time, police described the sister as cooperative.

Police called off the search late Friday night but asked the public for information on his whereabouts.
Gatcomb’s efforts to avoid justice will result in additional charges against him, and possibly against others, White said.

Before Friday, he was wanted on charges including domestic assault, failure to stop for an officer, criminal speed and violation of conditions of release. He was out of jail on bail after having been arrested on a charge of felony theft.

White said that Gatcomb has also been charged with resisting arrest and creating a police standoff; the Franklin County District Attorney’s office is reviewing the case and will determine whether to bring any other charges against Gatcomb, his sister, or anyone else who aided him in avoiding police.

Prosecutors were not available for comment on Monday, but Gatcomb’s arraignment will probably happen Tuesday, according to an employee of the district attorney’s office.

In July, a charge of illegal possession of a firearm against Gatcomb was dismissed by the Franklin County Superior Court. At that time, he was sentenced to 180 days in jail for violating a condition of release.

In November, several charges against Gatcomb were dismissed by the Franklin County Superior Court, including two charges of burglary, two charges of theft, and a charge of stealing drugs.

According to court records, the charges stemmed from two related burglaries in Jay, but there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287
mhhetling@centralmaine.com

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