Maine Man’s Gun Tattoo Prompts Police Standoff


For one resident of Norridgewock, Me., bearing arms and baring skin are one and the same.

On Tuesday morning, that resident, Michael Smith, woke up to the sound of a tree removal company working on his property. He went outside, shirtless, and yelled at the workers to stop. He went back inside. Minutes later, Maine State Police officers were at his front door, and troopers with semiautomatic rifles were in his driveway.

Smith’s creatively-placed gun tattoo — the one located just above his waistline — had prompted the workers to call the police.

“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 later told The Waterville Morning Sentinel. “We take all precautions when we don’t have the details.”

No charges will be filed against Smith. He told the paper it was all a misunderstanding.

“I got plans today,” Smith said. “I didn’t want to get shot.”

A photographer for The Waterville Morning Sentinel was on the scene during the standoff, and managed to get a shot of a shirtless Smith next to a sheriff’s deputy, along with one of Duff pointing a rifle at Smith’s home. Morning Sentinel managing editor Scott Monroe gave TPM permission to reprint the photographs, and told us how photographer Dave Leaming managed to get to the scene of the incident as it was unfolding.

“Dave Leaming has a police scanner in his car and so he raced to the scene when it was reported as a possible police standoff,” Monroe wrote in an email. “He got to the scene just at the time and, as you can see from the photo, captured the moment beautifully as police officers discovered the gun was actually a tattoo. Dave is well known here for racing out to the most remote areas of Maine for spot news, and his hustle paid off hugely in this case.”

(Photo credit: Dave Leaming/Morning Sentinel)

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