DO NOT goto a gun fight with a hammer.


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Tactical
December 19, 2003, 09:57 PM
A man shot by police late Wednesday was recovering from surgery at Central Maine Medical Center Thursday night.

Investigators said Vince A. Berube, 40, of Norway appeared to have suffered self-inflicted wounds before he entered the police compound and drew fire at about 9:40 p.m.

Berube was shot several times in the fenced-in area at the police station. Most of the shots struck him in the stomach, police said.

The three officers who fired at Berube remained on the job Thursday although they were taken off patrol duty.

Investigators said they found knives and blood in the cab of Berube’s truck when they searched the vehicle. Medics found Berube to be suffering from more than a dozen stab and slash wounds inflicted before he drove into the compound and began beating on police cars with a hammer.

Police on Thursday said they had received information that Berube may have been trying to commit “suicide by cop,” intentionally trying to draw gunfire, although they had not been able to confirm it.

“We have indications of that, but we’d like to speak with Mr. Berube before making that determination,” said police Chief William Welch.

Berube underwent surgery at CMMC early Thursday morning. He was listed as critical early in the day but hours later, Berube’s family asked that the hospital release no further information about his condition.

Officials from Maine State Police and the Attorney General’s Office were leading an investigation into the shooting.

What remained unclear Thursday was what brought Berube to the Lewiston police compound where officers come and go between the station and their cruisers.

Investigators said police officer Carley Conley was walking through a back door and into the compound at about 9:40 p.m. Wednesday when she encountered Berube.

Police and at least one eyewitness said Berube had been pounding on police cruisers with a hammer. Investigators said Conley called for backup and confronted Berube near his truck, which was backed into the compound.

“He became enraged. He came at the officer, threatening her,” Welch said. “Officer Conley was definitely in fear for her life.”

Conley drew her gun and fired at Berube and it is believed two bullets struck him. Those shots could be heard as far away as Ash Street.

Police said officers Matt Vierling and Eric Syphers then came out of the station and into the compound. Both officers fired at Berube until he dropped to the ground. Those shots could also be heard blocks away.

What was unclear Thursday was how many shots struck Berube and at which point he dropped the hammer and fell to the ground. One witness said the hammer flew from Berube’s fist when the first shots were fired.

Cameras mounted around the compound keep surveillance on the police yard but are not equipped to record activity, officials said.

Police said all three officers were justified in shooting because Berube showed no sign that he would surrender.

Before Wednesday, a police officer in Lewiston had not shot a suspect since 1991.

What prompted Berube to drive into the police yard with a hammer was still being debated on Thursday.

Some people in the neighborhood said the Norway man was angry because his wife had been arrested by Lewiston police. However, there was no such record of the arrest.

After he was shot, Berube lay on the ground, handcuffed and murmuring to police. Investigators said the victim mostly used profanity. But several times, he was heard uttering “leave my wife alone” while cops attempted to treat him.

Berube married Kimberly Ann Bean in September 1991, according to a marriage registry compiled by the Maine State Archives.

Lewiston police gave his address as 86 Norway Center Road.

Records at Oxford County Superior Court state that Berube pleaded guilty in March 1994 to a charge of criminal threatening with a firearm. The charge stemmed from an incident involving his wife. Police said Berube pointed a gun at his wife’s head and pulled the trigger. It is unknown if the gun was unloaded or the bullet missed.

Berube’s lawyer attempted to have the charge dismissed, arguing that Kimberly Berube didn’t want to press charges. But his motion was denied and Berube eventually agreed to plead guilty. He was placed on probation for one year.

Kimberly Berube could not be reached for comment about the shooting Thursday night.

Vince Berube’s criminal record also includes a conviction of criminal operating under the influence in 1986, and arrests in 1992, 1993 and March 2003 on charges of domestic assault, according to court and jail records. According to his last arrest report at the South Paris jail he was employed by Community Concepts as a construction specialist, a jail officer said.

Police in Lewiston have had no prior dealings with Berube, Welch said.

Berube was charged Thursday with aggravated criminal mischief and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon.

Conley, Vierling and Syphers each returned to the police station Thursday afternoon to assist with the investigation. None of the officers were hurt during the shooting.

Conley has been on the police force since the start of 2001. Vierling joined the department in February of 1999 and Syphers was hired in 1997 after three years with the Auburn Police Department.

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El Tejon
December 19, 2003, 10:03 PM
[MEANWHILE back at the Office of Internal Affairs at the cop shoppe in Maine] [phones ringing, typewritters clicking, pan to small mirrored room with table and 3 chairs, hazy with cigarette smoke]:

[Dramatic close up] Inspector Tejon: "So, officer, was it a controlled pair or a . . . [wait for it] . . . hammer?"

:D

Quartus
December 19, 2003, 10:13 PM
Man! This must have been confusing for the officer!

I mean, do you really want to tell a violent perp to 'drop the hammer'? :what:



:D

Standing Wolf
December 19, 2003, 11:32 PM
Vince Berube’s criminal record also includes a conviction of criminal operating under the influence in 1986, and arrests in 1992, 1993 and March 2003 on charges of domestic assault, according to court and jail records.

Another poster boy for parole and probation.

El Tejon
December 20, 2003, 10:13 AM
Standing Wolf, he had only one conviction. I think he would have been off probation for the DUI in '87.:D

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