Bridgton man charged in Sebago fatal shooting

Suspect David Pinkham

Suspect David Pinkham

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

SEBAGO — A Bridgton man is facing a murder charge following a shooting in Sebago Saturday which left Charles L. “Charlie” Cross, 66, dead.

David Pinkham, 67, appeared in the Cumberland County Courthouse in Portland on Monday and was ordered held without bail by Justice Lance Walker.

No plea was entered, and at this time, no motive for the shooting has been revealed.

Police say Cross had been married to Pinkham’s sister for more than 20 years, but were divorced about two decades ago. The two men remained friends.

Cross and his longtime girlfriend, Paula Simonds, 59, resided at 331 Hancock Pond Road in Sebago.

Police say the two men had a conversation inside the home, and when Pinkham was leaving, Cross followed him outdoors. Shortly after, Simonds heard a “pop-pop” noise at about noon. According to a police affidavit, Simonds looked out a window and saw Cross laying in a snowbank. Pinkham left the residence in his purple Plymouth Neon. Simonds then called police.

Pinkham was taken into custody in his vehicle a short time later by Bridgton Police. Maine State Police detectives were assisted by Cumberland County deputies and the Maine Attorney General’s Office. The case remains under investigation.

Cross, who was born in Bridgton, was described as an avid outdoorsman who enjoyed hunting, fishing and ATVs.

“Charlie will be forever loved and remembered as a devoted companion, father, grandfather and brother. He was a wonderful storyteller, whose tales will be sorely missed by those fortunate enough to have known him,” according to his obituary, which appears in this week’s edition.

Funeral services will be held on Friday.

A FELONY STOP involves parking the police cruiser on an angle, as shown here, so that the officer will be protected if the driver has a gun. Fortunately for arresting officer Donald “Mac” McCormick, murder suspect David Pinkham left the handgun in the car when he exited the purple Plymouth Neon he was driving after McCormick stopped him on South High Street across from the Swamp Road.

A FELONY STOP involves parking the police cruiser on an angle, as shown here, so that the officer will be protected if the driver has a gun. Fortunately for arresting officer Donald “Mac” McCormick, murder suspect David Pinkham left the handgun in the car when he exited the purple Plymouth Neon he was driving after McCormick stopped him on South High Street across from the Swamp Road.

Arrest of murder suspect was ‘by the book’

Very few police officers ever have to make the kind of arrest that Bridgton Police Officer Donald “Mac” McCormick made Saturday, after stopping murder suspect David Pinkham on South High Street.

Alone on duty, McCormick heard over the radio at around noon that Pinkham, a Bridgton resident known to him, had allegedly just shot and killed a man in Sebago. He immediately raced to Pinkham’s home on South High Street, across from Bridgton Hospital, and was relieved to find that Pinkham was not there.

Pinkham, who is 67, lives in the Pike’s Farm Apartments complex, and McCormick knew that confronting him there might put other lives in jeopardy.

McCormick was told to be on the lookout for a purple Plymouth Neon that Pinkham was driving after allegedly shooting Charlie Cross, 66, at Cross’s house at 331 Hancock Pond Road, Sebago.

McCormick, a 10-year veteran of the department, didn’t have to look for long. After continuing on South High Street, he got as far as Sandy Creek when the Neon came up from the Sebago Road and sped by him, headed toward Bridgton, at around 80 miles an hour. McCormick quickly did a U-turn, and radioed into dispatch that he was in pursuit.

With cruiser lights flashing and sirens sounding behind him, Pinkham abruptly pulled over shortly after the chase began, stopping across from the Swamp Road. It was here that McCormick, a 10-year Bridgton Police Officer, knew his training would be put to the test.

A REAL PROFESSIONAL — Bridgton Police Officer Donald “Mac” McCormick’s training on how to handle a felony stop automatically kicked into gear when he acted on his own in arresting murder suspect Pinkham of Bridgton on South High Street Saturday.   (Geraghty Photo)

A REAL PROFESSIONAL — Bridgton Police Officer Donald “Mac” McCormick’s training on how to handle a felony stop automatically kicked into gear when he acted on his own in arresting murder suspect Pinkham of Bridgton on South High Street Saturday.
(Geraghty Photo)

He parked his cruiser sideways, in what is called a felony stop with the nose of the cruiser pointed toward the road, as Pinkham got out of his car. McCormick unholstered his gun as he opened the cruiser door, and stood behind the door and the cruiser with weapon raised and pointed at Pinkham. He ordered Pinkham to show his hands; Pinkham did so, and then McCormick ordered him to lie on the ground.

Only then did McCormick approach Pinkham, pat him down and put the cuffs on. He told Pinkham he was under arrest and read him his rights. A second cruiser arrived shortly after from the Sebago crime scene, at about the same time that McCormick was placing Pinkham in the back seat of his cruiser. Pinkham was taken to the Bridgton Police Department for booking and then transferred to the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, where he is being held without bail following a Monday arraignment on the murder charge.

In describing the arrest, Bridgton Police Chief Richard Stillman said he “couldn’t be prouder of Mac” in how he performed his duties. “He did it by the book, and he did it all by himself,” Stillman said. “Fortunately, it went well,” he added. “Mr. Pinkham left the handgun on the seat in his car” and did not resist the arrest.

McCormick’s report has been turned over to Maine State Police and the Attorney General’s Office, and Bridgton Police will not have further involvement in the case. Stillman said that he will be issuing a commendation to McCormick for his actions in arresting Pinkham.

“He acted very professionally, with great calm, and was able to make the arrest without causing any harm to anybody,” Stillman said. “Very few police officers make that kind of arrest; I have not.”

McCormick’s arrest also drew accolades on the department’s Facebook page, but as one person commented, “No officer should ever be alone on duty.” The eight-person department currently doesn’t have enough officers to provide two officers on all shifts.

The Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee, however, are supporting a request by Stillman in the upcoming budget to hire a ninth patrol officer in order to have two officers on duty during peak response times, particularly on the weekend.

 

 

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