Armed Sexual Assault of Elderly Woman Ignites Gun Debate in Waterville, Maine

A brutal crime has the Waterville, Maine, police chief troubled and making a controversial call for action.

Police say early Sunday morning, 32-year-old Mark Halle broke into an elderly woman’s home and sexually assaulted her at gunpoint.

"It was very concerning," said Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey. "The age, the fact that it was random, the level of violence: those three factors make it unusual."

Police tracked down Halle hours later, and said he later admitted to the assault.

"He showed no emotion, and gave no reason why he did it," said Massey.

While Massey is relieved Halle is behind bars, he worries other residents may not be fully protected.

"One thing I know for sure: if you have a gun accessible to you at the time your life is being threatened, it gives you an option to defend yourself," he said.

Massey said law abiding citizens should take a safety course and keep a gun in a safe place at home.

"More people arming themselves seems to reduce crime," said Massey.

But some gun regulation advocates say his comments are harmful.

"We would hope our law enforcement officials would know better than to make this kind of statement," said William Harwood, founder of the Maine Gun Safety Coalition. "It's a tiny, tiny number of cases in which the home owner successfully defends himself or herself and the family. Too often, because the intruder has the element of surprise, it's the intruder who ends up with the gun."

Chief Massey said it's a personal decision for anyone to have a firearm, and hopes residents do so legally and safely.

Halle is scheduled for a hearing on Feb. 17. He is being held at the Kennebec County Jail on $225,000 bail.

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