PORTLAND — A police officer making his normal rounds at Portland High School Monday morning came across a man who was allegedly loading a high power rifle in the alley behind the downtown school.
Officer Steve Black, a resource officer at the high school, was in Freshman Alley around 8 a.m. when he saw a man standing outside a BMW convertible. According to police Captain Vern Malloch, the man was loading the weapon. Black reportedly approached the man from behind and ordered him to drop the weapon.
“He was cooperative with the officer,” Malloch said. Police arrested Herbert Jones, 46, of Portland, and charged him with possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of a firearm in a school zone, stalking and terrorizing. A passenger in the BMW, 43-year-old Walter Begaye, was charged with carrying a concealed weapon after police allegedly found a knife under his seat.
Police said they also found a shotgun, four knives and additional ammunition in the vehicle. A search of Jones’ residence at 233 Valley St. turned up an additional gun, Malloch said.
According to the police captain, Jones told Black that there were pedophiles in the nearby First Parish Unitarian Church, and that is why he had the gun. But Malloch said police believe Jones was stalking a woman attending an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the basement of the church that morning.
Malloch said police spoke with a woman at the meeting who indicated Jones had been stalking her. The two reportedly met about three months ago at an AA meeting. Malloch said the woman was not a former girlfriend of Jones.
Although the incident happened behind the high school, Malloch said the building was not locked down and added that no students were in Freshman Alley at the time. The alley is adjacent to the church at 425 Congress St.
Malloch said he couldn’t say for sure what would have happened if Black had not come across Jones, but speculated that people inside the church would have been threatened or shot.
“He had 40 rounds in the car with him,” said Malloch. “That’s not normal behavior.”
Begaye was described as a friend of Jones’. Police believe Jones has a felony conviction out of Florida, but because of a slight discrepancy in the birth date of the listed felon and the one Jones’ gave police, they will have to compare fingerprints to confirm that information.
Malloch said police believe Jones had been drinking, but he passed a field sobriety test. He also told police his girlfriend had been molested by her father. Malloch said there were no known pedophiles in the church Monday morning.
Jones is being held at Cumberland County Jail on $100,000 bail.
Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or firstname.lastname@example.org