Friday, October 28, 2011
Derick and Gage Greene
BIDDEFORD: A controversial Biddeford man known for his involvement in town politics and lawsuits will be arraigned today on two counts of murder in the shooting deaths of two young brothers.
An eyewitness said Rory Holland shot Gage Greene in the chest and then shot Derek Greene twice in the back during a confrontation in front of Holland's house early Tuesday morning.
Kurtis White said the shootings occurred in front of him as he bicycled up South Street. Gage Greene, 19, and Holland ''were arguing over something,'' White said.
Holland pulled a gun from his pants and ''shot (Gage) in the chest,'' White said. ''When I went to see if Gage was OK, he put the gun on me. Then Derek came from across the street.''
White said Derek Greene, 21, turned around when he saw the gun, but that Holland shot him twice in the back.
Police said they received calls around 1 a.m. from neighbors on South Street reporting gunshots, and arrived to find the Greene brothers lying in the street. Holland, 55, was in his house and refused to come out, they said, so a SWAT squad was called.
Police said Holland surrendered around 6 a.m., but they are releasing few details about the shootings.
Neither victim was armed, said Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
The Greene brothers were taken to Southern Maine Medical Center, where both died shortly after arrival.
Holland and Derek Greene had an altercation about six weeks ago, and Greene was arrested on assault charges and ordered to stay away from Holland.
A two-time mayoral candidate with a criminal record, Holland has been a combative figure in Biddeford for more than two decades, racking up a long list of crimes and allegations, filing suits against the city and being victimized by racial slurs -- Holland is black -- that were spray-painted on the fence in front of his home.
As a convicted felon, Holland would be unable to own a handgun legally. McCausland said police are investigating how he obtained the weapon he allegedly used.
Many neighbors and residents said they weren't surprised by what transpired Tuesday.
''I've always said it's going to take a tragedy to wake the state up to him, and that's what's happened,'' said Paul Burgess, who has lived across the street from Holland for five years. ''It seems like this guy is untouchable. It wouldn't surprise me to see him get out of this.''
Burgess said he called police about Holland several times, including an incident this year in which he said Holland was using a leaf blower to send trash from his yard into the street. Police rarely did anything in response to the complaints, Burgess said.
''They were afraid he was going to sue the police department,'' he said. ''They would arrest him and he would sue them.''
Calls seeking a response from Biddeford Police Chief Roger P. Beaupre and a spokeswoman were not returned.
Biddeford police also declined to release details of a May 12 incident involving Derek Greene and Holland, saying it is part of the investigation into the shooting.
A friend of Greene's -- who also was charged in that altercation -- said Greene had asked him to come along when he went to confront Holland about an earlier dispute.
Elijah Copeland said Greene had struck Holland before police arrived on the scene. Copeland also said police originally handcuffed Holland, but after Greene struck Holland again, Greene and Copeland were arrested.
Because of that incident, Copeland said he suspected Holland as soon as he heard his friend had been shot.
''I knew it was Rory straight out,'' said Copeland, who said he was told that Holland ''was going to gun us all down, everybody that hanged on this block.''
Copeland said he never heard Holland make a threat directly, ''but we got the message'' from others.
Copeland and others said the brothers didn't represent a threat to Holland. Both Greene brothers were about 5 feet 8 inches tall and slightly built, Copeland said. Holland's driver's license lists him as 6 feet 4 inches and 235 pounds.
Friends said the Greene brothers moved to Biddeford about two years ago. Derek Greene was convicted of terrorizing in August 2006 and sentenced to 180 days in jail, suspended. He also was convicted of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer in December 2007, ordered to make restitution and fined $200. Last December, he was charged with burglary of a motor vehicle.
Wendy Foster said she took in Gage Greene, a friend of her son's, last winter when he had nowhere to stay. She said he was trying to make a living working with a roofer, but it had been hard in recent weeks because of the horrible weather.
''He was like my own, pretty much,'' she said.
Residents of the area said they have had frequent clashes with Holland. A man who runs an Internet service provider business near Holland's house said he got a protection-from-abuse order filed against Holland three years ago.
''He'd be hanging out here'' outside the building, ''just being obnoxious to our customers,'' said Roland Lawler, who runs XpressAmerica. ''I think he liked the attention.''
Lawler said he's not surprised that Holland has been charged in the shooting.
''This has been building up for years,'' he said. ''Everybody has a story about Rory.''
They wouldn't harm a fly. They had great hearts.''
Justin Libby said he employed Derek and Gage two years ago as workers in his paving business.
''They were good workers, who never complained. They will be missed,'' Libby said.
Wendy Foster organized the vigil. Foster said she took Derek into her home last winter because he needed a place to live and because her son was one of Derek's best friends.
''I wanted everyone who knew Gage and Derek to have the chance to be here. I wanted to show respect to their family because they are grieving right now,'' Foster told the crowd.
''I didn't know them personally, but I do know their mom. I'm a mother and I know how hard it must be to lose two sons,'' said Missy Diffin of Biddeford. Diffin has a five-year-old daughter. ''They did not deserve to die.''