Overnight standoff in Auburn sparked by online feud, police say

·6 min read

May 2—AUBURN — A 21-hour standoff in a normally quiet residential neighborhood that ended Tuesday morning was sparked by an online feud, police said.

Auburn police responded to the area of 30 Gillander Avenue around 2 p.m. Monday after a caller reported a gunshot had been fired at his vehicle, according to a statement released Tuesday from Auburn Deputy Police Chief Timothy Cougle. Officers responded to the scene and closed nearby roads to create a perimeter around the property.

When the man living at that address, Daryan Bryan Saunders, 47, refused to surrender to police, additional officers were called to the scene and residents in immediate danger were evacuated, according to the statement, beginning a 21-hour standoff involving teams of local and state police.

Cougle said in his statement that the caller and Saunders were known to each other and had been involved in an online feud that escalated into threats.

The caller, who was not identified in the statement, told police he drove by Saunder's residence Monday after Saunders gave him his address, looking for a confrontation. Saunders fired a single gun shot from inside his residence and stuck the caller's vehicle as he drove by, the statement said.

Auburn police arrived and made several attempts to contact Saunders by phone and using a loudspeaker, but he would not respond, Cougle said. The Maine State Police Tactical and Crisis Negotiation teams were then called for assistance.

Police took Saunders into custody at about 10:20 a.m. Tuesday after he fired rounds at law enforcement, worried nearby residents and caused a neighborhood lockdown.

"UPDATE: The Gillander Avenue standoff has come to a peaceful resolution. The suspect is in custody and is uninjured," an alert from the city read at 10:33 a.m.

All roads have since been reopened.

Saunders was charged with four felonies and two misdemeanors: elevated aggravated assault, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, aggravated reckless conduct, possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, criminal mischief and creating a police standoff.

He was being held at Androscoggin County Jail as of 4:30 p.m. in lieu of $6,000 cash bail.

The standoff intensified as more state tactical units arrived Tuesday morning, bolstered overnight by units from New Hampshire. Police regularly used a bullhorn to try to talk the man into coming peacefully out of the house. Other tactical team members could be seen running through the neighborhoods and setting up around the house.

Just before 10 a.m., police officers and K-9s were seen weaving through backyards on nearby Park and Grandview avenues, approaching Gillander Avenue. Other officers were seen walking down Gillander with a ramming post.

Just prior to that, a vehicle equipped with a water hose was seen near the house, and moments later a witness said police were flooding the basement of the house where the man was holed up.

Then, at 10:15 a.m., members of the tactical team were seen running toward the house, and Saunders was taken into custody very quickly after that. Attempts to talk him out of the house, with officers using a bullhorn to communicate, continued right up until police approached the house.

One neighbor told the Sun Journal she heard what she thought was a gunshot Monday, and then heard a car loudly drive off. Then, she said, she heard what she thought was a rough-sounding muffler backfiring, but wondered later if it was a second gunshot. Then, "a half-an-hour later and I see cops everywhere."

The neighbor said police knocked on the doors of homes immediately surrounding Saunders' house and asked people to evacuate, so she went down the street to stay with a neighbor.

Then, "literally," she said, "the bullhorn and lights were going all night, every 45 minutes. Police did things like break down the front door, break down a window, drag things out of the house, tear gas in the upstairs, tear gas in the basement, and finally started pumping water in the basement" Tuesday morning.

According to the neighbor, the home where Saunders lives is owned by his mother, although she doesn't live there. "It's just a bad situation," she said, as police were forced to "trash her house because he wouldn't come out."

The neighbor was aware of Saunders' criminal history and that he'd spent some time in jail, but said he'd "always been really kind to me. Always. Really pleasant," even though he had a reputation in the neighborhood as something of a troubled person.

Overnight, other neighbors reported they could hear police negotiators over loudspeakers as they sought to speak with the man inside the house. The man was advised to come out of the house with his hands in the air, but remained inside.

A single loud shot was heard at about 2 a.m., according to a neighbor, followed 15 to 20 minutes later by a series of shots that "sounded like a semi-automatic" because the shots were close together.

At about 5:45 a.m. a single very loud bang that sounded like a shotgun was heard.

A neighbor said that at about 9 a.m., five men in full tactical gear with a K-9 ran through their backyard and set up nearby.

"We can hear the bullhorn from time to time," the neighbor said. "It's a bit muffled, but a neighbor who is in a more direct line says the cops said (through the bullhorn), 'We're just trying to get your attention. You have to stop shooting.'"

Electrical power to the neighborhood went out briefly around 9 a.m. but was restored shortly after.

Saunders has many past criminal convictions which began in 1994, at 18 years old, with a $100 fine for disorderly conduct. Other early convictions included criminal mischief and refusing to submit to arrest in October 2005, terrorizing in December 2005 and operating under the influence in December 2011.

In June 2016, he was charged with domestic violence assault and was later sentenced to six months in jail. He was sentenced to a year in jail for felony domestic violence assault with priors in March 2017 and was charged shortly after on four counts of tampering with a witness, informant, juror or victim and five counts of violating conditions of release. He was sentenced to serve seven years in prison for these charges, with all but two years and six months suspended, and was placed on probation for three years upon his release.

Cougle's statement included a thank-you to Auburn police, fire and public works personnel, Maine and New Hampshire state police, and "residents who were directly impacted by this incident for their patience and understanding while we worked to bring the situation to a peaceful resolution."