One man is dead and two Maine police officers are on paid administrative leave following a car chase and dramatic shootout outside a convenience store in Mexico, Maine, Sunday night.
Police say Steve Piirainen, 52, of South Paris died after exchanging gunfire with Maine State Trooper Paul Casey and Mexico Reserve Officer Dean Benson.
Piirainen allegedly stole a white GMC pickup truck in Paris and led police on a chase that ended about 7 p.m. Sunday in the Circle K parking lot on Main Street.
Bob Higgins of Mexico was on his way home with a pizza when the scary scene unfolded.
"His vehicle went right by me. It had two flat tires and a line of police cars were right behind him," said Higgins. "Then all of a sudden shots rang out."
Heather Conley, who watched from across the street, said it was terrifying.
"My husband saw him shooting at the cops. The cops were shooting back and we just hit the floor," said Conley. "It was nerve wracking."
State police say the chase began around 5:30 p.m. on Hill street in Paris, Maine, where Piirainen had been living with his mother and stepfather. It's not known yet who the truck belonged to or when he stole it, but police say Piirainen has a lengthy criminal record that includes burglary, theft, domestic violence, and aggravated criminal assault charges.
Witnesses say they're just glad there was no collateral damage.
"He could had hurt somebody innocent," Conley said. "I'm kind of glad the cops did what they did before someone else got hurt."
The two police officers who were involved in the shooting are now on paid administrative leave pending an investigation from the Maine Attorney General's office.