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Portland police hope for new leads in 2008 killing of James Angelo

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Portland police hope for new leads in 2008 killing of James Angelo

PORTLAND — Police held a press conference Wednesday to once again solicit the public's help in solving the 2008 killing of a Mercy Hospital security guard.

Mercy Hospital and Maine Medical Center are offering a $30,000 reward to anyone who provides information that leads to the arrest and indictment of the person who shot and killed James Angelo on Sept. 7, 2008.

Angelo was working as an unarmed security guard at Mercy Hospital when he was shot in the back around 4 a.m. Police said the shooting occurred on the Winter Street side of the hospital.

Assistant Police Chief Michael Sauschuck on Wednesday said he is confident someone in the community has information about what happened.

"The reason we're here today is to refresh this incident in the minds of the public," he said. "We firmly believe someone in the community is aware of who did this ... and we want them to come forward."

Sauschuck said it appears Angelo was a "random victim" who has hit by by a "stray bullet."

"We do not believe this was aimed at anyway at James," Sauschuck said. "There was no altercation before. As tragically as it sounds, he was just at the wrong place at the wrong time."

Sauschuck said multiple shots were fired, and Angelo, a Sudan native, was hit once in the back.

But he would not discuss where those shots were aimed, citing the ongoing investigation.

"The largest stumbling block here is what we believe is the random nature of James' victimization," Sauschuck said. "It makes it very difficult for us to track back a motive ... which is a major part of any investigation."

Two security cameras and a witness have provided information to police.

Sauschuck said one camera shows "two shadowy figures" in the general area at the time of the shooting, while the other shows Angelo walking and then falling to the ground.

A Mercy Hospital employee reportedly witnessed a black man, short in stature and wearing a light-colored sweatshirt with patterns, running south on Winter Street to Spring Street.

Sauschuck said police looked into whether the shooting was related to several West End drug houses. Although no connection was made, police are not ruling out a connection, he said. 

Police also canvassed the neighborhood to get information from area residents, he said.

A previous reward of $40,000 failed to break the case. But Sauschuck said he hopes the department's anonymous Text-a-Tip and Web Tip program, launched last year, will encourage someone to step forward with information.

Both programs are provided by Canadian crime tip management company TipSoft, and are used by police departments throughout the U.S.

To text a tip, mobile phone users should text the word "GOTCHA" along with their message to 274637 (which spells "crimes").

The message is encrypted and sent through a secure server at TipSoft, where it is also stripped of any identifying information. The tip then goes to Portland dispatch and to five high-ranking members of the department.

Anonymous tips may also be delivered online at Portland-police.com, or by calling 874-8524.

Also, if several people were involved in the shooting, police hope the group has had a falling out and that someone may turn informant.

"When it comes to crimes, relationships change overtime," Sauschuck said.

The reward being offered by Mercy Hospital and Maine Medical Center expires on Dec. 31.

Mercy Chief Operating Officer Eileen Skinner said she hopes the case is solved soon, to give closure to Angelo's family and the community at large.

Angelo, who came to the U.S. in 1995, was killed at the age of 27, leaving behind a young daughter, among others. After graduating from Portland High School in 1999, he expressed interest in pursuing a career in law enforcement.

Sauschuck said the department will continue to investigate until the case is solved. Even if it means calling more press conferences in the future, which often produce a "surge" of information.

"We never forget and we will never give up," he said. "We're going to keep asking you to come back until we solve this."

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @randybillings