Charge dropped against man who allegedly threatened Bangor soccer players with gun
BANGOR (BDN) -- A Bangor man charged by police with threatening members of the Bangor High School freshman soccer team with a handgun last month will not be prosecuted.
Steven Butler, 40, was charged with terrorizing, a Class C crime, on Oct. 3.
Penobscot County District Attorney R. Christopher Almy said Monday that he would not proceed with the case.
Almy said in an email that “there is insufficient evidence to prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt” and to negate Butler’s right to defend his property.
Once police charge an individual, Maine prosecutors decide whether the case will go forward. If Almy had pursued it, he would have had to ask the Penobscot County grand jury to indict Butler on the charge because it is a felony.
Butler was arrested after he allegedly threatened soccer players at the Union Street Athletic Field during a practice. He has since been free on $5,000 unsecured bail with conditions that he not use or possess drugs, alcohol or weapons, and to stay off the field, which abuts his property.
“I am glad that the DA looked at the evidence and decided not to charge me,” Butler said in a telephone interview Monday. “I didn’t threaten anyone. I never left my own property. I thought there were five people over six feet tall in my yard.”
Butler also said he saw no one wearing a uniform or any adults or officials who are on the field during games.
“I never went on to the field,” he said. “I never threatened to hurt them. My attorney told me that I have a right to protect my property.”
His attorney, Terence Harrigan, said Monday in an email, “One can threaten the use of deadly force to prevent a criminal trespass. Mr. Butler’s actions were justified under Maine law and the district attorney’s office had no choice but to decline to prosecute under those circumstances.”
Once the court officially informs Bangor police that the case will not go forward, Butler can retrieve his gun, which was seized as evidence.
Although Butler claimed the students were on his lawn, Bangor School Superintendent Betsy Webb disputed that Monday in an email.
“The Bangor High student athletes and coaches have verified they were near the tree line at the Union Street Athletic Field, but never entered onto private property,” she said.
The school department’s legal options going forward include seeking a protection order against Butler and asking a judge to continue the criminal trespass order that kept him off the field following the incident.
“The School Department has been in conversation with the school attorney and the Bangor Police Department [about those options],” Webb said. “The department continues to work with the city leadership in regards to athletic activities at the Union Street Athletic Field and will be reviewing all options prior to next season.”
A fence has been installed where the athletic field complex abuts neighboring residential properties along the tree line on that side of the field, according to Webb.
Butler said he was glad the fence was erected.
“It relieves the stress of being worried someone might come onto my property,” he said. “It’s a lot harder for someone to come onto my lawn now.”
Butler, who said he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, is a student at Eastern Maine Community College. He has lived in the house abutting the athletic fields for about 18 months.