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Maine police kill armed man after a night of gunfire and burned homes

Auburn firefighters hose down the remains of home in Auburn, Maine, early Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP) Auburn firefighters hose down the remains of home in Auburn, Maine, early Saturday, June 15, 2024. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal via AP)
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Auburn, Maine -

A Maine State Police tactical team fatally shot a man on a rooftop early Saturday after an hourslong standoff in which authorities said he opened fire at officers, two homes burned down and a person who fought with him apparently died.

Police issued a shelter-in-place order, evacuated homes and closed a section of the street in Auburn, trigging memories of the mass shooting in neighboring Lewiston less than eight months ago, when a gunman killed 18 people and injured 13 others in the deadliest shooting in Maine's history.

“It’s been an intense and tragic morning here in Auburn,” said Timothy Cougle, the city's deputy chief of police, “especially in light of the events that took place this past October.”

Fire investigators later Saturday said human remains were found in the charred wreckage of the home and had yet to be identified.

Police said Leein Hinkley, 43, had been released on bail days earlier on a probation violation. He tried to break into a home just before 1 a.m. Saturday, and got into a fight with a man inside. A woman called 911 and fled through a window when she heard gunshots.

Auburn police officers found the woman hiding down the street about 10 minutes later, and she identified the person who broke in as Hinkley. Officers heard yelling inside the house and saw flames coming from the windows and engulfing the building.

The deputy chief said Hinkley fired shots at officers several times and was heard yelling at them from inside, and Auburn police called for the tactical team.

Shortly before 1:30 a.m. another house on the street was reported on fire. Hinkley fled, briefly hiding in a neighboring garage, then fled to a flat rooftop of a home down the street, where he began “yelling and screaming” while brandishing a firearm, police said.

Photos of scene show several vehicles parked beside the homes also burned, including a yellow school bus.

Col. William Ross of the Maine State Police said a tactical team located Hinkley on the rooftop with a handgun just after 5:30 a.m., and two troopers shot and killed him moments later. Ross did not provide details about what happened during the four-hour standoff.

Capt. Chris Moretto of the Auburn Fire Department said there were three explosions around 2:15 a.m. that were believed to be related to the fire, the Lewiston Sun-Journal reported. Another explosion was heard shortly before 3 a.m., the newspaper reported.

Ross said Hinkley had been in custody on a probation violation related to his conviction in 2011 of domestic violence and elevated aggravated assault, as well as a recent domestic violence arrest. However, he was released Wednesday after a court lowered his bail to US$1,500 with conditions, including house arrest at a Lewiston residence.

The Lewiston Sun Journal reported in 2012 that Hinkley, of Sabattus, was sentenced to 20 years in the double stabbing of his former girlfriend and a person who attempted to intervene.

A state police major crimes unit will investigate the criminal conduct and the attorney general’s office will investigate the police shooting. The two troopers involved will be on leave pending the outcome of that investigation, Ross said.

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