NORRIDGEWOCK — Michael Smith went outside shirtless after being awakened Tuesday morning, yelling at a tree removal company to get off his property.
The workers thought they saw a gun in his waistband and called police.
Smith, who’d gone back to bed, was awakened again minutes later — this time by Maine State Police at his front door, backed up by a group of troopers with assault rifles in his driveway. They were asking him via a megaphone to come out of his house.
Smith did have a gun. It was tattooed on his stomach.
No charges will be filed against Smith, but police said they always take reports of a gun or threat seriously. Several police standoffs with armed men have occurred in central Maine in recent years, some of them deadly.
“Obviously it was a misunderstanding and he didn’t have a weapon, but we had to respond to the initial report as if he did,” Maine State Police Trooper Scott Duff said. “We take all precautions when we don’t have the details.”
Smith was asleep at his home, about 10 a.m. Tuesday when he heard a loud noise outside his window. He said it sounded as though someone was driving up his driveway and crunching the thick layer of ice on it.
Smith, who works nights, said he was still asleep and was surprised to see a crew of workers from Lucas Tree Experts preparing to saw a number of trees around some power lines on his property.
Wearing just a pair of pants and no shirt, though the temperature was in the teens, he went outside and asked them to leave.
The tree removal company workers reported that as they backed into the driveway, Smith told them not to cut the trees. They told him it was not a problem.
Smith went back to bed; but as the workers were leaving, one thought he saw a pistol in Smith’s waistband.
That’s when they called the police, momentarily prompting reports of a police standoff.
“They weren’t 100 percent sure what he was saying,” Duff said, “but he was yelling and they thought it could be some sort of a threat. They thought he was yelling something to the effect of doing harm, but when we got a hold of him, it ended up just being a tattoo.”
It was all just a misunderstanding, both Smith and police said.
The tattoo of the life-size handgun is positioned on Smith’s body to look as if the barrel of the gun is tucked into the waist of his pants. He said he doesn’t regret getting it, even though this isn’t the first time the tattoo has been the focus of police attention.