THOMASTON – A police officer investigating an alarm at Georges Valley High School was attacked by an intruder, who later made a Houdini-like escape from the back seat of a locked cruiser.
A foot chase and dog tracking ensued Sunday night, but police were unsuccessful in apprehending the man. Police were still searching for him at 5 p.m. Monday.
Police identified the man they are seeking as Dustin Malmstrom, 19, of Damariscotta. He is 6 feet tall, 180 pounds, with blond hair and green eyes, said Officer Timothy Hoppe.
The bizarre incident started out as an alarm at the school about 9 p.m. Sunday.
Officer Michael Blais responded, then waited for a school official to arrive before entering the building off Valley Street.
When Blais walked into the kitchen, pieces of broken glass crunched beneath his feet and he noticed a broken window and a brick that had apparently been used by somebody to gain access, Hoppe said.
As Blais walked past a cooler, the burglar jumped him and ripped his eyeglasses off during their tussle. Blais was not injured in the scuffle, Hoppe said.
Blais soon had the man in handcuffs behind his back, Hoppe said, and he put him inside the cruiser in the back seat, locked the doors and the interior center window between the front and back seats.
Somehow, in the short time it took Blais to go back inside the school to retrieve a bag of evidence, which included the suspect’s wallet, complete with identification, the intruder managed to escape.
According to Hoppe, the intruder slipped his body through his locked arms, bringing his arms to his front. Then he forced the center window open, crawled through to the front seat and unlocked the cruiser doors.
Hoppe said the officer was gone “less than a minute.”
Blais chased the escapee on foot, and a Knox County sheriff’s dog and deputy were called in. The suspect fled into woods across from the high school soccer field.
“The trail got cold,” Hoppe said.
Malmstrom “should have a pair of handcuffs on his hands,” Hoppe said Monday. “Blais got his ID, thankfully.”
In November 2002, a partially handcuffed 18-year-old Thomaston man escaped from police after being arrested for allegedly stealing a half-gallon of bourbon and other goods from a convenience store.
In that case, the teen managed to break away from the sergeant while being cuffed outside the store. He fled with one handcuff attached to his left wrist. He was arrested about five days later.