Family of man killed in Saco shooting says police conclusion is 'unbelievable'

    FILE - Maine State Police say 53-year-old Michael Burns, of Rochester, New Hampshire, was shot to death on the front porch of a home on Nye Street in Saco on Sept. 30, 2017. (WGME)

    SACO (BDN) -- An attorney representing the family of a New Hampshire man killed nearly a year ago in a Saco shooting said Wednesday “we respectfully but strongly take issue with [the] official story” that the shooter was acting in self-defense.

    A Maine State Police spokesman told the Bangor Daily News on Monday that investigators believe Michael Burns, 54, approached the 26 Nye St. home in the early morning hours of Sept. 30, 2017, seeking sex after responding to an advertisement on the website

    Police believe he paid $100, but did not have sex with the woman there, and after an argument broke out with the man who rents the home, Burns retrieved a knife from his car.

    When the Rochester, New Hampshire, resident returned with a weapon, the male tenant shot him in self-defense, police investigators believe. As a result, police do not intend to charge the man with any crime related to the shooting, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Stephen McCausland said Monday.

    On Wednesday, attorney Alfred T. Catalfo, III, released a four-page statement on behalf of Burns’ family taking issue with the findings.

    The depiction of Burns as a violent attacker “is not only out of character for him but simply unbelievable,” Catalfo wrote.

    Burns — a Berwick Academy graduate, self-made computer technician and local Boy Scout troop leader — “rarely drank alcohol, did not use drugs and had no history of violence,” he wrote, adding that the man had no criminal history.

    “This is not a clear-cut case of self-defense, as one law enforcement official was quoted as saying,” Catalfo wrote. “Clear-cut cases of self-defense do not take almost a year of investigation to reach that conclusion.”

    In his written statement, the attorney outlined a number of factors which the family believes cast doubt on the police determination.

    Catalfo wrote that, “as Mr. Burns is deceased, the entire official story is supported only by the accounts of the shooter” and two of the shooter’s associates — the woman at the home and a second man who allegedly took the $100.

    Neither the shooter, nor either of the other two people in question have been publicly named, as they have not been charged with crimes.

    The attorney wrote that Burns’ adult son observed his father’s body after the shooting and that his face was intact, suggesting that he was not facing the shooter at the time of the fatal headshot.

    “A gunshot to the back of the head is not indicative of self-defense,” Catalfo wrote, adding that the family is considering a civil suit “against the perpetrators” in the case.

    A state police spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.

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