ROCKLAND, Maine — The 67-year-old man who shot an alleged intruder accused of trying to steal his prescription painkillers has been told by his landlord he cannot have a firearm in his apartment.
“This is bull,” Harvey Lembo said Tuesday afternoon after he received a letter from the company that manages the Park Place Apartments in Rockland explaining its policy against guns.
Lembo, who uses a wheelchair, said he should have the right to have a gun to protect himself but has agreed to comply.
Lembo said he purchased a 7 mm Russian-made revolver on Monday after four burglaries at his apartment, the most recent occurring last month when prescription painkillers and $1,000 in cash reportedly were stolen.
About midnight Monday, just 12 hours after he obtained the gun, Lembo used it to shoot 45-year-old Christopher Wildhaber of Rockland, who Lembo said had broken into his home to steal his medications. Wildhaber was shot in the shoulder and fled the residence before being apprehended by Rockland police in nearby woods.
Wildhaber initially was taken to Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport but was transferred to Maine Medical Center in Portland, where he was treated for his wound before being taken to the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.
Wildhaber made his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon in Knox County Unified Court, where he was charged with burglary, theft of medication, attempted theft and three counts of refusing to submit to arrest. Justice Susan Sparaco set bail at $25,000 cash. He entered no plea, and his next court hearing is set for Oct. 15.
As of late afternoon, Wildhaber remained incarcerated at the Knox County Jail.
The Rockland man said he would apply for a court-appointed attorney.
Park Place Apartments is managed by Stanford Management Co. of Portland. Russ Gagne, director of finance, said the firearm prohibition is part of the house rules for living in the apartments, and tenants sign a lease that requires they adhere to house rules.
“This is to ensure the safety of all tenants,” Gagne said.
He said owners and managers of private rental units can prohibit firearms. He said most multifamily housing developments have such prohibitions. Stanford manages about 1,500 units in Maine, he said.
Gagne said the management company is conducting its own investigation into what happened Monday and was looking into how to improve the safety of residents. He said since the incident just occurred Monday night, the review by the company was not complete.
Rockland police Sgt. Donald Finnegan confirmed Lembo had reported multiple prior burglaries to the department and said the cases are under investigation. He said that other than Lembo, however, he is not aware of burglary complaints at the apartment complex.
Finnegan said Tuesday that police confiscated Lembo’s gun because it is considered evidence in the continuing investigation into the alleged burglary and shooting.
The sergeant said police do not know why Lembo has become such a frequent target of burglars but that criminals often target people who they know have painkillers. Finnegan said people should take precautions, including avoiding telling others about such medications.