June 05, 2020

Man shot by police had arsenal > Suspect stabbed officer in Portland altercation

PORTLAND — A collection of pipe bombs, bomb-making instructions and a folder labeled “pigs” were found in the home of a man who was shot dead by police after he stabbed and seriously wounded an officer after making a threat to blow up a bar.

The materials were found when officers searched the Portland home where Kevin Caufield, 44, lived with his elderly mother, Police Chief Michael Chitwood said.

“These devices are basically pipe bombs, ready to go. All they need is the black powder,” Chitwood said as he pointed to a display of bombs, fuses, and books and videos on how to make bombs, all taken from the basement of the Caleb Street residence.

The scuffle in which Caufield was killed and Officer James Sweatt was wounded took place Friday night after police received a call from a local tavern saying Caufield had threatened to blow the place up, the chief said.

Officers chased Caufield to a garage behind his house, where the deadly confrontation took place.

Sweatt, 31, who suffered multiple stab wounds and a broken neck, was listed in serious condition Saturday at Maine Medical Center in Portland. But he had been removed from the special-care unit by Sunday afternoon and his prognosis was good, said Lt. Nelson Bartley.

Sweatt, who has regained feeling in his right arm and leg, was stabbed in the neck and the back of the head. One of the wounds from Caufield’s 8-inch steak knife penetrated the jugular vein, causing considerable blood loss, Chitwood said.

“He’s very, very lucky to be alive,” the chief said after visiting the officer in the hospital where he underwent four hours of surgery.

Sweatt’s partner, Officer Glen McGary, fired four shots at Caufield with his semiautomatic pistol as Caufield was about to resume his attack on the wounded officer who had fallen down the garage steps during the struggle, the chief said.

McGary, 24, who was able to make out only silhouettes in the darkness, heard Sweatt call out to him, “Shoot! Shoot! He’s stabbing me!” Chitwood said.

The shooting, as with all cases in Maine involving use of deadly force by police, was being investigated by the state Attorney General’s Office. Chitwood said he welcomed the investigation and indicated that he felt it would conclude that Sweatt and McGary acted properly.

“Every action that they took was appropriate and they should be commended for their bravery,” he said.

The incident began shortly before 7 p.m. when police were summoned to Paul & Val’s Firehouse Tavern on Congress Street, where the bar manager said Caufield was harassing customers and employees.

About a half hour after Caufield was ordered to leave the bar, police got the call saying he had made a telephone threat to blow the place up.

Chitwood said Saturday he didn’t know how long Caufield had the bomb-making equipment in his basement but noted that a receipt for one of the fuses carried a date of 1995.

Books found in Caufield’s home included “The Ultimate Sniper,” “The Advanced Anarchist’s Arsenal,” “Improvised Booby Trap Devices” and “Improvised Weapons in American Prisons,” according to the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Also found in the house was a folder, labeled “pigs,” that contained news clippings dating back to 1994 about Portland police officers and allegations of police brutality, the chief said.

“When we add all of this together, we see that we were dealing with somebody who was potentially a walking time bomb,” he said.

Chitwood said he was sure that Caufield’s mother, who expressed concern about the wounded police officer, had no knowledge of her son’s bomb-making activities.

Caufield had a history of run-ins with the law, but they involved nuisance crimes such as disorderly conduct, Chitwood said. “No armed robberies, no rapes, but everyone knows who he is,” he said.

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