SCARBOROUGH — Authorities have released few details about what led to the Jan. 18 shooting of an Ash Swamp Road man, allegedly by a Scarborough High School senior.
Matthew Gwyer, 17, of 26 Ocean Ave., is being held at the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland. At his first court appearance Monday, Jan. 25, Gwyer denied the Class A felony charges brought against him, which include attempted murder, burglary and elevated aggravated assault.
Gwyer’s next court hearing is scheduled for March 24, two days before his 18th birthday.
Daniel Warren, a Scarborough attorney who is Gwyer’s former coach, is representing Gwyer’s parents, Maura and Drew Gwyer. Warren on Wednesday said their son is the last person he would suspect of such a crime.
“I’ve known thousands and thousands of Scarborough High kids,” Warren, a 1975 Scarborough High School graduate who coached Gwyer in Little League, said. “If you had asked me, (out) of all those students, who might someday be accused of a horrific crime, Matt Gwyer wouldn’t be anywhere on any list.”
According to Warren, Gwyer was recently inducted into the National Honor Society, and also plays basketball and baseball.
Police on Jan. 18 at around 1:30 a.m. received a call from Bruce Glidden’s home at 104 Ash Swamp Road to report that the 47-year-old had been shot as he slept on a couch.
Nothing was stolen, but windows in a vehicle parked in the driveway were smashed. Glidden, who was at home at the time with his wife and two teenage children, also students at Scarborough High School, was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he was treated for non life-threatening wounds and discharged two days later.
Police on Friday, Jan. 22 received a call around 1 a.m. about a suspicious vehicle in the driveway of a home on Pleasant Hill Road.
Officers pulled over the gray Honda Ridgeline for operating without tail lights on Black Point Road. Police searched the car, operated by Gwyer, and discovered a 9 mm handgun, the same caliber weapon they believe was used to shoot Glidden.
How well Gwyer knows the Glidden family has not been released, but Gwyer is in the same class as the Gliddens’ oldest child, Mahlon Glidden.
It is not known if Gwyer will be tried as an adult, Assistant District Attorney Michelle McCulloch said Tuesday. However, because he has been charged with felony crimes rather than misdemeanors, his identity “is no longer protected and no longer subject to confidentiality” usually afforded juveniles, she said.
Gwyer was ordered by Judge E. Mary Kelly to undergo a psychological evaluation to help determine whether he should be tried as an adult or juvenile.
“It’s not uncommon for these types of evaluations to take a couple of months,” McCulloch said.
Once the evaluation is complete, prosecutors will decide whether to petition the judge to charge Gwyer as an adult for any or all of the three felonies, but it’s “rare that we do this,” McCulloch said.
If charged as an adult, Gwyer could face up to 30 years in prison for each felony. If tried as a juvenile and found guilty, he could be held at Long Creek until he turns 21.
“The district attorney has tremendous power here,” Warren said. “I think, historically, the court gives great deference to what the DA says.”
Scarborough residents, meanwhile, have taken to social media to speculate about what could have spurred the shooting.
Some have suggested Gwyer was being bullied. Warren would not comment on the accusation Wednesday and Gwyer’s attorney, Edwin Chester, did not return calls for comment.
Others have questioned how Gwyer acquired the handgun police allege was used in the shooting, and whether it was stolen. Warren noted that Gwyer was not charged with illegal possession of a firearm, implying that the gun is owned legally.
The situation is “tragic” for everyone involved, Warren said.
“Glidden was the victim of a horrific crime,” and Gwyer’s parents “are in a surreal state. They couldn’t believe their son was being accused of something like this,” he said.
On Wednesday evening, in response to the rumors on social media, Police Chief Robbie Moulton in a Facebook post urged residents to refrain from letting the events of the incident polarize the community.
“I am writing in hopes that we will not let this event divide us, but instead, help us come together to heal as a community,” Moulton said.
“Although this has struck two Scarborough families in a very personal way, the effects of this event have had an impact on nearly every citizen,” he said. “Many people are struggling to understand how and why this could happen.”
Moulton asked people “to wait for the facts to be revealed and have compassion for all involved parties.”
Town Councilor Chris Caiazzo, who has two children who attend Scarborough High School, said Moulton’s statement was “very appropriate.”
“There’s a lot of anxiety in town,” he said. As much as residents want more details about the situation, “it’s really important to let the process play out.”
“It’s frustrating for everyone because all the facts are not known,” he said. “People resort to rumor and innuendo and gossip. We just have to let the (investigating) process continue.”
Matthew Gwyer’s photo in the 2015 Scarborough High School yearbook.