Parents: Shootings began when daughter reported assault

AP News
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Posted: Jul 21, 2015 11:54 PM
Parents: Shootings began when daughter reported assault

BENEDICTA, Maine (AP) — The parents of a woman police say was kidnapped during a shooting rampage that left two people dead believe the gunman was furious at her when he found out she went to police saying he abducted and sexually assaulted her days earlier.

Rick and Kim Irish told The Associated Press that Anthony Lord had become obsessed with their 21-year-old daughter, Brittany Irish, before abducting her and attacking her on July 15, two days before the shooting rampage.

Because of his lengthy criminal record, Lord knew he would be going back to prison and didn't care about the consequences, the parents said.

"He knows he was going to jail for life for what he did to Brittany ... so he was just going to go out with a bang," Rick Irish said Monday at the family's home in Benedicta, where police say Lord fatally shot Brittany Irish's boyfriend, Kyle Hewitt, and shot and wounded her mother before kidnapping her early Friday.

Afterward, police say, Lord fled from the Irishes' home and shot three other people, setting off a manhunt that shut down roads in parts of northern Maine and sent panic through several small rural towns where violence is so rare that residents usually leave their homes unlocked.

Police have not publicly said what they believe motivated the shootings, which they say killed the 22-year-old Hewitt and 58-year-old Kevin Tozier, whom Lord happened upon during his crime rampage, and wounded three others. The Irishes said Brittany Irish also was wounded in the arm during the shootings.

Lord, 35, is charged with kidnapping and murder. He remained in the Aroostook County Jail after making a brief court appearance via video link Monday. His lawyer did not immediately respond to a message from the AP on Tuesday seeking comment on the sexual-assault allegations.

State police and the attorney general's office declined to comment on the allegations, citing their policy against discussing ongoing investigations.

But it's possible there could be other charges in the case later, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Zainea said, without elaborating.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they were sexually assaulted, but Brittany Irish consented to being identified, saying she wanted the full story to be told.

The parents said Lord met their daughter through a mutual friend several years ago and got a protection order against him when they found out about his criminal history. The two recently reconnected after she had a miscarriage and his young child died. But he became obsessed with her and began stalking her, they said.

A state police affidavit released Monday said Lord confessed to the killings, telling investigators he believed he'd shot five people. Lord was not required to enter a plea during the court proceeding. His lawyer said he was seeking a mental health evaluation.

Kim Irish, who on Monday was still wearing a bandage on her arm where she had been shot, said her daughter and Hewitt came up from Bangor on Thursday night to be with her when they heard that the family's barn was on fire. She urged the officers who responded to the fire to stay there because she had a feeling that Lord was involved and was concerned about their safety, but police declined to do so, she said.

Around 4 a.m., she got up to go to the bathroom and heard a loud bang and the house shook, she said. She opened the bathroom door and Brittany Irish came running in and closed the door behind her.

Lord kicked the door open and shot Kim Irish in the arm while Brittany Irish escaped through a window, she said.

Kim Irish said she pleaded with Lord not to hurt her daughter, but he fled out the front door after Brittany Irish. When she left the bathroom, she saw that Hewitt had been shot multiple times.

According to the affidavit, Brittany Irish made it outside, flagged down a passing pickup truck and climbed in the back before Lord opened fire and kidnapped her.

Kim Irish was taken to a hospital but didn't know where her daughter was or whether she was safe. She said her mind was racing with questions: "Is he going to kill Brittany? Where's my baby?"

Brittany Irish was with Lord when he was arrested at his uncle's home in Houlton hours later, police said. She told the AP that Lord sexually assaulted her both times he abducted her.

She is now safe and recovering, her parents said. But she's traumatized by the ordeal and devastated by the loss of Hewitt, who was the father of one of her two young children, they said.

They said they believe the violence could have been prevented if police had arrested Lord after the sexual assault or stayed outside the house the night the barn was set on fire.

A spokesman for the Bangor Police Department declined to comment. A state police spokesman also said he could not comment on the matter.

Lord, who is on the state's sexual offender registry, has a criminal record that includes convictions for domestic assault, criminal threatening and assault, police said. He was convicted in 2004 of unlawful sexual contact with someone under the age of 14.

Lord is the father of a 6-month-old baby who died in May in Bangor. Police said an investigation was continuing.

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Associated Press writer David Sharp in Portland contributed to this report. Follow Alanna Durkin at http://www.twitter.com/aedurkin

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This story has been corrected to show the baby died in Bangor, not Millinocket.