BOWDOIN, MAINE — Four people were found fatally shot at a home in this rural town Tuesday morning, and three drivers were shot a short time later on a highway in Yarmouth in what authorities said are connected shootings.
A Bowdoin man, identified as 34-year-old Joseph Eaton, was arrested and charged with the murder of the “four victims located in an Augusta Road residence,” Maine State Police said in a statement Tuesday night.
Eaton was transported to Two Bridges Regional Jail in Wiscasset and will make an initial appearance in court later in the week, the statement said.
The statement did not reference the highway shootings, but in an earlier statement, police said they are connected. Investigators will be working throughout the night processing multiple scenes and continuing to interview people involved, according to the statement.
The gun violence unfolded Tuesday morning, when police found the four bodies at a home on Augusta Road, which is also known as Route 201.
A short time later, at around 10:30 a.m., three people were shot while driving their vehicles on Interstate 295 south near exit 15 in Yarmouth, a coastal town located about 25 miles south of Bowdoin, police said.
“We had reports of several vehicles being struck by gunfire,” Maine State Police Lieutenant Randall Keaten told reporters at the scene, according to video broadcast by WMTW.
The injured victims were taken to a local hospital, where one was in critical condition, Maine State Police said in a statement.
The bodies of the four people were taken to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta to have autopsies conducted to determine the cause of death.
Their identities will not be released until next of kin are notified, State Police said Tuesday night.
At the scene, a pair of Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s office cruisers blocked a long gravel driveway that led from Augusta Street to a grey two-story home partially obscured by tall trees.
The neighborhood along Route 201 is heavily wooded, with homes spread far apart.
At least eight police vehicles were parked along the driveway, and numerous investigators could be seen standing in a group near the home.
One neighbor, who lived across the street, said a man and a woman had lived in the home for more than 40 years. The man runs a concrete business from the home. He described them as “God-fearing people,” and the woman attended a Bible study Monday night at a local church.
“Everyone is shocked,” the man, who asked not to be identified, said of the neighbors’ reaction to the deaths.
Neighbors were discussing the deaths on Facebook messenger, he said, showing the screen on his phone to a reporter.
“They’re an awfully nice couple,” he said.
The man added that he had heard gunshots Monday night and on Tuesday morning. But he didn’t suspect anything out of the ordinary because “everyone shoots” in the rural area.
He learned of the fatalities Tuesday morning from police, he said.
Maine Governor Janet Mills issued a statement expressing shock at the gun violence that erupted in the state’s picturesque Mid Coast region.
“Like people across Maine, I am shocked and deeply saddened — acts of violence like we experienced today shake our state and our communities to the core,” Mills said in a statement posted to social media shortly after 5:30 p.m.
“My thoughts are with the families, friends and loved ones of those impacted by this tragedy, and I am praying for the quick recovery of those who are hospitalized,” the Democratic governor wrote.
She lauded law enforcement for its swift response to the multiple crime scenes.
“There is still much to learn, but I am grateful to the quick response of State, county, and local law enforcement to protect Maine people,” she wrote.
The highway shootings closed I-295, which connects coastal communities to Greater Portland, for several hours. It was later reopened.
One driver, identified as Mason Debay by WMTW, told the station he witnessed the shootings and saw “gun smoke out of the end of the barrel, coming from the vehicles.”
Multiple vehicles were “swerving around,” the highway, he told the station.
The shootings remain under investigation.
Anyone with information about either shooting is urged to call the Augusta Regional Communications Center at 207-624-7076, option 9.
Tonya Alanez of the Globe staff and correspondent Daniel Kool contributed to this report.
John Hilliard can be reached at email@example.com.