By Barbara Tetreault
BERLIN — An Errol man was arrested Saturday after a stand-off with Rumford, Maine police, acting on behalf of Berlin police who wanted him for violating a protective order.
After Matthew Middaugh, 45, of Colebrook Road, was arrested by Maine authorities, a search of the bedroom where he had barricaded himself lead to the discovery of 250 grams or an estimated 2,500 doses of what police believe is the drug fentanyl.
Berlin Deputy Police Chief Dan Buteau said Middaugh was allegedly violating a protective order by making threats of violence with a gun against a person in Berlin. The Berlin police were able to determine that the threats, both verbal and by text messages, were being made by cell phone from a residence on the East Bethel Road in Rumford Village. Given the seriousness of the threats and the fear that Middaugh was allegedly planning on leaving the residence to carry out the threats, Buteau said Berlin called both Rumford Police and the Oxford County Sheriff’s office in Maine for help apprehending Middaugh.
Rumford Police Chief Tony Milligan said Maine authorities were notified late afternoon Saturday and warned that Berlin police had prior dealings with Middaugh and considered “him to be aggressive, uncooperative, likely to run, and potentially armed and dangerous.”
After locating the black Honda CRV Middaugh was believed to be driving parked at a house on East Bethel Road, the Rumford police and the Oxford Sheriff’s department established a perimeter around the house. Using a cruiser public address system, police called on all the occupants to come out. Two people came out of the building but they were determined to be renters. Police were able to establish that Middaugh was inside and refusing to come out. In a release, Milligan said Middaugh allegedly was intoxicated and had been using drugs and may have had access to an air rifle inside the home.
Milligan requested additional help from the Maine State Police Tactical Team including a state police negotiator. While waiting for state police, the officers at the scene could see Middaugh inside the residence. The negotiator arrived and was able to contact Middaugh by cell phone. After an hour of negotiating, Middaugh agreed to cooperate and walked out of the house, and surrendered to police. The tactical team, still on its way to the scene, was cancelled. During a sweep of the house, police observed a small quality of drugs and paraphernalia and a drug-certified K-9 alerted law enforcement to additional drugs behind a door to the bedroom used by Middaugh. Police obtained a search warrant and discovered the 250 grams of fentanyl, which Maine authorities estimate has a street value of $100,000.
For now, Maine police have charged Middaugh with being a fugitive from justice and creating a stand-off with police and he is being held pending arraignment. Milligan said drug charges will be added once test results confirm the substance seized is fentanyl. If the court finds Middaugh eligible for bail, Milligan said extradition proceedings will be initiated to transfer him to New Hampshire to answer to charges here.
Milligan said he was pleased that the stand-off ended successfully and peacefully.
“It was the best possible outcome for the suspect as well as for the officers and the community,” he said.
Middaugh was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of criminal threatening in Berlin District Court in February and received a suspended fine, conditional on good behavior for one year and no contact with the victim of his threat.