Pak appears in court in double-slaying
By David Hench
and Gillian Graham
PORTLAND PRESS HERALD | January 01,2013
James Pak, 74, formerly of Rutland and now of Biddeford, Maine, stands during a booking photo.
ALFRED, Maine — Susan Johnson had been shot twice, once in the arm and once in the back, and tried to hide behind a Christmas tree and play dead as her landlord kept shooting on Saturday, according to police.
Her landlord, James Pak, had come into her apartment at 17 Sokokis Road in Biddeford and threatened to shoot her, but she didn’t take him seriously until it was too late, according to an affidavit filed by police seeking his arrest.
Pak then went on to fatally shoot Johnson’s son, Derrick Thompson, 19, and his girlfriend, Alivia Welch, 18, police said. Both died of gunshot wounds to the chest, according to the state Medical Examiner’s Office.
Pak, 74, a former well-known Rutland, Vt., businessman, moved to Maine about six years ago. He appeared in York County Superior Court on Monday to face two counts of murder. He appeared before Justice Paul Fritzsche with his attorney Joel Vincent.
He was not required to enter a plea. If convicted, Pak faces 25 years to life in prison.
Police revealed earlier today that Pak had to be disabled with a Taser when they took him into custody Saturday night.
Biddeford Police Chief Roger Beaupre said that following a three-hour negotiation with a Biddeford officer, Pak agreed to leave his house. He told the negotiator that he would bring the gun with him, and was told not to. When he emerged from the house, he refused to comply with officers’ commands and they could not be sure he was unarmed.
Pak walked from the house down the driveway with his hands in his pockets and refused to take them out, Beaupre said. He then turned as if to walk back to the house and a nearby officer disabled him with a Taser. It was the first discharge of the electronic stun devices since the department acquired them in October, Beaupre said.
Johnson survived and was escorted from the apartment to a waiting ambulance by a Biddeford officer at the outset of the standoff, Beaupre said.
Johnson was taken to Maine Medical Center but a hospital spokeswoman said Monday she was not listed as a patient. A state police spokesman said he did not know her whereabouts or whether she had been discharged, but said she was still alive.
Johnson’s 7-year-old son, Brayden, hid in a bedroom during the shooting and was not injured.
Biddeford police were initially called to the house by one of the tenants complaining that Pak was banging on the door. Police left 43 minutes later after determining that the tenants did not feel threatened.
There were no warning signs the dispute would turn deadly based on any criminal history or previous violent encounters with Pak, Beaupre said. Pak has no criminal record in Maine, according to the State Bureau of Identification.
Three minutes after officers left the house, police were called back to the resident by Johnson reporting the shooting.
Pak owns the two-unit house where the Saturday shootings took place and lives in the main building.
State police said Sunday a dispute over parking in one of the home’s two driveways during a snowstorm may have led to the shooting.
Following his arrest at about 10 p.m. Saturday, Pak told detectives he thought he had killed three people.
“Pak said he walked into the apartment and told them he was going to shoot them,” the affidavit reads. “Pak said he shot Johnson first, then he shot Thompson and then Welch. Pak said he spared the boy’s life.”
Friends of Thompson and Welch held a candlelight vigil Monday at Rotary Park in Biddeford. It was previously scheduled at Clifford Park, but the location changed late in the day.
Welch graduated from Thornton Academy in Saco last June and was a nursing student at Southern Maine Community College. Thompson, who attended Biddeford High School, worked as a car detailer at Patriot Subaru in Saco.
Thompson’s family moved into the Sokokis Road house in October. Welch had been staying there for about a month, according to police.