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What we know so far about the suspect in the Bowdoin, Yarmouth shootings

Members of law enforcement approach vehicles at a scene where people were injured in a shooting on Interstate 295 in Yarmouth, Maine, Tuesday, April 18, 2023. Gunfire that erupted on the busy highway in Maine is linked to a second crime scene where people have been found dead in a home about 25 miles away in the town of Bowdoin, Maine, state police said Tuesday.
Patrick Whittle
/
AP
Members of law enforcement approach vehicles at a scene where people were injured in a shooting on Interstate 295 in Yarmouth, Maine, Tuesday, April 18, 2023. Gunfire that erupted on the busy highway in Maine is linked to a second crime scene where people have been found dead in a home about 25 miles away in the town of Bowdoin, Maine, state police said Tuesday.

More details are emerging about the man who allegedly killed four people in Bowdoin and injured three others in a highway shooting.

Thirty-four-year old Joseph Eaton has a long, complicated criminal record. Court documents show he may have also struggled with mental health issues that exacerbated his interactions with law enforcement.

His earliest brush with the law was in 2013, according to Maine criminal history records. Over the years he has been charged with aggravated assault, domestic violence assaults, violations of protective orders and operating under the influence. He was most recently convicted of a felony assault charge in Knox County in 2021.

Court documents in Florida show Eaton has had dramatic confrontations with police. He was arrested for assaulting a police officer in 2018 there after police received a call of a person having a mental breakdown.

Joseph Eaton
via Facebook
Joseph Eaton

Eaton's aunt had reported he was breaking things in her home and talking to God. At one point he left the home and came back in with a loaded rifle from her vehicle. She was worried he might hurt himself.

When police arrived, they announced their presence and Eaton charged them from the home's porch, according to the court records. He attempted to swing a bat at an officer but was eventually Tasered and taken into custody. He was on active felony probation at the time and was not supposed to possess a gun.

Eaton is the sole suspect in an incident that spanned across Sagadahoc and Cumberland counties. Police were alerted to four people found dead in Bowdoin around 10 a.m. Tuesday. About 30 minutes later, three people were shot at in their car on Interstate 295 in the Yarmouth area. The two incidents are related.

Those three were taken to a hospital. One was in critical condition.

Eaton had posted an emotional video on Facebook the day before the shootings, asking for forgiveness. He spoke at length about trauma and not finding acceptance.

The incident shut down I-295 between Freeport and Yarmouth for much of the day. The area was reopened around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, but police continued to work both there and at the Augusta Road residence in Bowdoin where the four victims were killed.

Eaton is expected to appear in court later this week. Police will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. today in Augusta about the investigation. They have not yet identified the victims.

Reporter Caitlin Andrews came to Maine Public in 2023 after nearly eight years in print journalism. She hails from New Hampshire originally.