April 26, 2013

Paintball incident: a threat to Maine senator?

Vandalism is investigated at Dutremble's home, following his key gun-control vote.

By Tom Bell tbell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD — Biddeford police are investigating a criminal mischief case that could be an attempt to intimidate a Maine lawmaker for his vote on controversial gun control legislation. 

Sen. David Dutremble on Tuesday cast a key vote in favor of a bill to limit gun magazines in Maine to no more than 10 rounds. The freshman Democrat's vote broke a 6-6 tie on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee and sent the bill to the Legislature with an "ought to pass" recommendation. 

At 8:55 p.m. the following day, police received a report that someone had shot a paintball at the second-floor window of Dutremble's home at 536 Elm St. The paintball -- a gelatin capsule containing nontoxic orange-pink dye -- burst onto the window but did not break it, said Deputy Chief JoAnne Fisk.

Dutremble declined to be interviewed, but released a statement about the incident on Friday, saying: "This action crossed the line. As lawmakers, we make tough decisions, and we hold ourselves accountable and stand by the decisions that we make. But nobody should be subjected to threats or acts of violence. What's most important is the safety and well-being of our families. We can disagree, but we need to disagree respectfully, without crossing the line to threats and violence."

The incident is "very troubling." said Bill Harwood, founder of Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence. "It shows how emotional and extreme the behavior can be on the fringes on this issue."

Until the investigation is completed, nobody knows what the shooter's motivation was, said David Trahan, executive director of the Sportsman's Alliance of Maine, which opposes gun control legislation.

However, whether it was a prank or an attempt to intimidate, shooting a paintball at a house is an unsafe act, he said.

"For anybody to do that is troubling," he said. "We condemn it absolutely. We support the senator."

The Legislature's hearings on gun-control legislation have drawn large audiences, and the criminal justice committee has had additional personnel posted at the door and in the hallways outside during its meetings.

Dutremble, 45, is a freshman lawmaker representing Arundel, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and part of Biddeford. He works as an electrician and as a lieutenant with the Biddeford Fire Department. He and his wife, Charlene, have five children. 

Fisk said the incident is still under investigation.

Staff Writer Tom Bell can be reached at: 791-6369


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