January 23

Gunman in Gorham standoff surrenders peacefully

The USM student reportedly threatened to shoot people in a fraternity house before barricading himself inside.

By Dennis Hoey dhoey@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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A Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office armored vehicle with two SWAT members on the back turns from Route 114 onto Route 25 in Gorham near the site of a police standoff with a gunman.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Armed police run in front and stand by on right overlooking the frat house in background during the standoff at USM in Gorham. Wed., January 22, 2014. John Patriquin/Staff Photographer.

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A University of Southern Maine student who barricaded himself in a fraternity house next to USM’s Gorham campus, armed with a weapon, was arrested after surrendering to police around 11:30 Wednesday night.

Gorham police identified the student as Alan-Michael Santos, 23, of Winchester, Mass.

Jeff Earl, who works at the Gorham House of Pizza, said that as the student exited the nearby Sigma Nu fraternity house, he heard several police officers repeatedly shout, “Drop to your knees.”

Earl said he saw an armored vehicle – the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Emergency Services Unit – parked near the house. He said he was close enough to see the man drop to his knees and put his hands behind his head. The man was then handcuffed and led to the armored vehicle before being driven away in a police cruiser.

Robert Caswell, a spokesman for USM, said the man, a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity, entered the fraternity house at 24 School St. around 8 p.m. Wednesday and threatened to shoot other fraternity members.

Officers from the Gorham Police Department and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office surrounded the building around 8:30 p.m.

Caswell said police told him that the student was intoxicated. The fraternity house was evacuated and no injuries were reported. Caswell said he does not know what type of weapon the student had.

“Everyone got out. The student is the only person in the house,” Caswell said from the scene Wednesday night.

The house is near Gorham’s downtown business district, much of which was closed to traffic and pedestrians during the three-hour standoff.

The Gorham House of Pizza closed at 8 p.m. Wednesday after police advised the staff that it would be best if customers left the downtown area because of the standoff. The fraternity house is about one block from the restaurant.

“It has been pretty intense,” said Earl, who stayed at the restaurant to clean up. “You don’t expect to see anything like this in Gorham.”

The university sent text messages to students alerting them to the situation and had staff members visit all of the dormitories on the Gorham campus.

Earl said his daughter, Ashley Earl, was teaching a dance class at the Dance Studio of Maine when police officers arrived and told everyone to stay inside. They had to remain in the studio for about an hour. The dance studio is in a building just down the street from Sigma Nu.

Gorham police urged students to remain inside and not to venture into the downtown area. “Students were told to sit tight and stay on campus,” Caswell said. “Given that and the extremely cold temperatures, there is not much reason for anyone to go outside.”

Caswell said about 1,200 students live on the Gorham campus, which has seven dormitories and three fraternity houses.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:dhoey@pressherald.com
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