February 6, 2013

Jay man involved in standoff was pursued by Monmouth police last month

Michael W. Gatcomb Jr., 29, faces felony charges for Jan. 20 chase from Monmouth to Leeds, police chief says

By Craig Crosby ccrosby@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

A Jay man already facing numerous charges after a weekend standoff with police also has been charged in connection with a pursuit by Monmouth police last month.

Michael W. Gatcomb Jr., 29, is facing felony charges of eluding police and violating conditions of release as well as criminal speed -- 30 mph more than the posted limit -- in a connection with a Jan. 20 pursuit that stretched several miles from Monmouth into Leeds, said Monmouth Police Chief Kevin Mulherin.

Gatcomb was charged on Kennebec County warrants at the Franklin County jail, where he has been held since his arrest Sunday night on unconnected charges.

According to Mulherin, here's what happened: The pursuit began around 1:40 a.m. Jan. 20 when Officer Dana Wessling of the Monmouth police tried to stop Gatcomb's 2000 Jeep Cherokee for suspicious driving near the Jehova's Witness church on U.S. Route 202. Gatcomb, who had a passenger, sped west on U.S. 202 towards Leeds, reaching speeds in excess of 100 mph, Mulherin said.

"We followed at a safe distance," he said.

Gatcomb turned the Jeep right to head north on Route 106 in Leeds and struck a utility trailer. Wessling, believing Gatcomb's Jeep was stuck, got out of his cruiser with his gun drawn to try to arrest Gatcomb, Mulherin said. Gatcomb began backing up toward Wessling and sped away again, continuing north on Route 106.

Mulherin said the pursuit continued another few miles until the Jeep ran out of gasoline near the Bernie Hartford Road intersection. Gatcomb fled into the woods and got away.

Wessling's investigation confirmed Gatcomb's identity the next day and he secured warrants charging Gatcomb with eluding and violating conditions of release.

Mulherin said he did not know why Gatcomb ran from Wessling.

"It was just one of those things," Mulherin said. "He didn't want to be stopped."

Gatcomb was arrested Sunday after an eight-hour standoff at a North Jay mobile home after a weekend-long search by police.

On Friday afternoon, police saw Gatcomb riding in a pickup truck on Route 133. The truck, driven by 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.

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, Jay Police Chief Larry White said this week.

Before Friday, Gatcomb was wanted on the Monmouth charges as well as domestic assault. He was out of jail on bail after having been arrested on a charge of felony theft.

White said Gatcomb also has 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.

Craig Crosby -- 621-5642
ccrosby@centralmaine.com

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