Attorney General Releases Report on Mars Hill Shooting

Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 10:01 AM EST
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A report regarding an officer involved shooting that took place in April 2021 in Mars Hill was released by the Maine Attorney General’s Office. NewsSource8′s Brian Bouchard has the story. We do want to warn you some viewers may find parts of the video and audio disturbing.

The Incident, which resulted in the death of 28 year old Jacob Wood took place in the early morning hours of April 14th, 2021 in Mars Hill.

“Aroostook county Sheriff’s Office responded to a 911 call on Scovill street in Mars Hill. Once there an armed confrontation occurred outside the residence.” says Shawn Gillen – Sheriff, Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office in a Zoom interview conducted on April 14th, 2021.

The call was received by Houlton Regional Communications Center at about 2:56 AM.

“He called 911 on himself, told them that he wanted suicide by cop and that he had a hostage.”

In November 2021, Lena Gerber reached out to WAGM, identifying herself as the hostage in this situation and requested to be interviewed. Wood was spending the night at Gerber’s residence on Scovill Street in Mars Hill when the incident occurred. Prior to police arriving on scene Wood allegedly used a knife to stab himself in the leg and was offered medical assistance from the 911 operator. According to the Attorney General’s Report Wood stated in the 911 call: “I don’t want a ******* ambulance… I will kill people tonight”. Neighbors also contacted 911 after hearing the commotion. SGT Erica Pelletier and Deputy Isaac Ward from the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office responded to the call at approximately 3:24 AM.

“The cops came, I went out first, Jake came behind me, grabbed me, and he held me so tight and he had a knife to my throat.” says Gerber.

The knife is described in the report as a folding knife with a blade measuring 3 and a half inches long. The following is a portion of Deputy Ward’s body cam footage. The video was obscured due to Deputy Ward’s positioning, however camera recorded the commands issued by Deputy Ward to Wood. The entirety of the incident took place over the course of 52 seconds.

“Hey, let me see your hands man, let me see your hands, does he have a knife?” shouts Deputy Isaac Ward of the Aroostook County Sheriff’s Office.

Upon Woods refusal of Deputy Ward’s commands, the deputy retrieved a scoped rifle from his cruiser.

“Let go of her, let go of her” yells Ward.

According to both the body camera footage, and the Attorney General’s report. Wood continued to refuse to comply with Deputy Ward’s commands.

“Let go of her, put your hands up” commands Ward.

Two shots were fired by Deputy Ward at an estimated distance of 20 yards.

Wood was struck by a single bullet to the chest, while the hostage was grazed by the other bullet on her left side. Gerber disagrees with the term “grazed” used in the Attorney General’s Report.

“The only reason it didn’t kill me is because he was holding me so tight, the surgeon said it would have blew a hole through me” says Gerber.

The report states that both officers Ward and Pelletier believed deadly force was necessary to prevent Wood from killing the hostage, and the Attorney General’s report concludes that Deputy Ward acted in defense of the hostage and was cleared of any wrongdoing. According to the report, Wood fell to the ground and died at the scene.

A post mortem examination conducted by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner determined Wood’s cause of death to be a gunshot wound to the chest and toxicology reports state Wood’s blood contained a level of methamphetamine know to be associated with violent and irrational behavior, as well as a blood alcohol concentration of .148% along with 3 other unnamed substances. It also states Wood had a medical history of schizophrenia and polysubstance abuse.

Gerber reached out to WAGM for an interview, as press releases following the incident did not name or mention a hostage, and she wished it to be public knowledge, that she was a hostage, and had been hit with a round from Deputy Ward over the course of the incident. Gerber said she felt invisible, and that none of the agencies involved were acknowledging her existence or role in the incident.

“The reason that we don’t put your name on the news is that you were part of a domestic that you were the victim in, you had a knife held to your throat and your life was in jeopardy. We don’t put any victims names on the news, it has nothing to do with you getting shot, it has everything to do with you being the victim. So we’re not trying to pull a fast one over on you or anything like that” says Sheriff Gillen in a recorded phone conversation provided by Gerber.

WAGM reached out to Gerber Monday morning, who states she has read the report by the Attorney General’s office, and while it does not identify her by name, it does relay that a hostage was involved.

Brian Bouchard, NewsSource8