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Police: Hostage taker armed with shotgun, pistol

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JAY – Today, local police released details about yesterday’s hostage situation at the Verso Paper Co. mill, in which the mill’s manager was held for several hours by a man armed with two firearms.

Francis "Frank" Smith, 49, of Norridgewock has been charged with kidnapping and terrorizing. (FCSD photo)

According to Jay Police Chief Larry White Sr., his department responded to the mill’s administrative office wing after receiving a report of an armed subject holding an employee hostage at 8:40 a.m. White, Det. Richard Caton IV and Officer Russell Adams responded and secured the area, with the mill going into lock-down moments after the incident began.

“We wanted to ensure that the armed subject could not get into any other area of the mill,” White said in a statement released Thursday.

White noted police were able to contain the subject, reportedly Francis “Frank” Smith, 49, of Norridgewock, in a single room in the administrative wing. Smith was with a single hostage, reported by the Maine Department of Public Safety to be mill manager Marc Connor, 43. Police believe Smith was able to access the mill through a gate left open due to construction workers entering and leaving the facility.

Police were able to monitor conversations between Smith and Connor, White said. Smith was later allegedly found to have been armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and a high-standard .357 Magnum pistol.

Franklin County Sheriff’s Department and off-duty JPD personnel responded to establish a perimeter around the mill itself, while the RSU 73 schools in Jay, Livermore Falls and Livermore were locked down, in keeping with the district’s crisis management plan.

Meanwhile, the Maine State Tactical Team arrived at the request of the Jay Police Department, entering the mill at 10:20 a.m. Maine State Police negotiators began to talk to Smith by telephone, while police worked with mill security supervisor Richard Bean and other mill personnel to gather information about Smith, who was employed by the mill up until September 2011.

Connor was released, unharmed at roughly 3:30 p.m. Three hours later, Smith was taken into custody, without any shots fired throughout the duration of the incident. He was arrested on charges of kidnapping, a Class A felony, and terrorizing, a Class C felony, on a warrant obtained by Caton during the stand-off.

Smith’s firearms and vehicle, a truck, were impounded by police. White said Jay police are continuing to investigate the incident and that the case would be reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office in regards to any possible additional charges. Smith is currently being held on $10,000 cash bail and is expected to appear in court tomorrow.

Throughout the entire incident, both state and local police, as well as mill spokespersons, stressed that all non-involved employees were never in any danger.

“Verso Mill personnel did a great job assisting police,” White said. “It was the efforts of all law enforcement and mill personnel that contributed to a peaceful ending of this incident.”

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