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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Gustaf Kilander

Maine shooting suspect Joseph Eaton shot his parents and two others before opening fire on random highway


Among the four victims shot dead in Maine were the suspect’s parents.

Joseph Eaton, 34, has been charged with four counts of murder after reportedly shooting and killing his father David Eaton, 66; his mother Cynthia Eaton, 62; and their friends Robert Eger, 72; and Patricia Eger, 62.

The suspect was released from prison just four days before he went on a rampage, shooting and killing those at the home and wounding another three people while driving down a highway.

The suspect left the Maine Correctional Center in Windham on Friday when he was picked up by his mother, according to the state authorities.

The shooting took place at the home of the Egers. Three of the bodies were found inside the home, while Mr Eaton’s father was found at the property in a “non-attached garage,” according to the authorities.

The killings have been connected to the highway shooting in which three people were injured on Tuesday about 20 miles away in Yarmouth.

Col Bill Ross of Maine State Police identified the three people shot on the highway as 51-year-old Shawn Halsey, 29-year-old Justin Halsey, and 25-year-old Paige Halsey. Ms Halsey remains in critical condition at Maine Medical Center.

Speaking about the deceased, Col Ross said that “the office of the chief medical examiner determined that all died of gunshot wounds and were determined to be homicides”.

Mr Eaton began shooting on the highway because he thought he was being hunted by the police, Col Ross added. The suspect had spent the last two years in jail, the colonel said.

“Mr Eaton was taken by Major Crimes detectives and Portland police officers to the Portland Police Department where he gave a confession and admitted to killing his parents and his parents’ friends – he admitted to killing his parents David and Cynthia and their friends Robert and Patricia in the residence at 1459 Augusta Road,” he said.

“He had also admitted that he shot vehicles on Interstate 295 because he thought he [was] being followed by police officers,” Col Ross said.

He added that “a few days ago, he was released from Windham Correctional Center, where he was serving about two years for aggravated assault. He was picked up I believe on April 14 at the Windham correctional facility by his mother Cynthia and they drove to the residence in Bowdoin where the murders occurred”.

The authorities didn’t specify when the killings took place – a friend of the Egers discovered the bodies after making several attempts to contact the couple and eventually went over to check in on them.

When asked about the suspect’s living arrangements, Col Ross said, “He's been in jail for two years and [on] April 14 of this year his mother picked him up at the Wyndham Correctional Facility”.

He added that “his parents were involved in his accommodations”.

Mr Eaton was sentenced in March 2021, according to the director of governmental affairs for the Maine Department of Corrections, Anna Black. He had been serving a sentence after a probation violation, the state official said on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.

While Mr Eaton has been charged with four counts of murder, he hasn’t yet been charged in connection to the highway shooting.

State records reveal that Mr Eaton has a criminal history which meant that he couldn’t legally own a firearm.

Mr Eaton’s criminal past begins in 2008 in Kansas when he was charged with burglary. He was sentenced in 2009 and released in 2010.

He was sentenced to three years behind bars in May 2018 after being charged with three counts of aggravated assault of a first responder in Nassau County, Florida.

Within a month of being released on 15 February 2021, he was sentenced on 1 March for an assault in Maine.

Mr Eaton has been sent back to jail while he waits to attend a court hearing on Thursday. Officials at the jail said it wasn’t clear if he had a lawyer to speak on his behalf.

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