SKOWHEGAN, Maine May 13 2020 It’s safe to say no one in the audience at the Sunday service at Life Church in Skowhegan was ready for this.
“It was definitely something that was a little bit nerve-wracking. Something that you cannot prepare for,” said Pastor John Davis.
It was their second week holding parking lot services per the governor’s order, and Pastor John Davis says all members of the church were in their cars when they heard sirens.
“As I was standing up near the stage, I saw someone coming very quickly and then drove into our church driveway at a rapid pace. The surprising thing was when two police cars followed. The man was screaming. His stereo was blaring. His body was half hanging out of the vehicle. He was beating on the side of the vehicle. He jumped out while it was still rolling. It rolled into one of the vehicles that was parked in the parking lot. When he got out was when the big surprise came as he absolutely had no clothes on with all of the parishioners sitting in awkward silence,” said Davis.
Skowhegan Police say 37-year-old Thomas Bouchard had taken his mother’s car without her permission.
“But in prior to taking the vehicle here, completely stripped off his clothes and then jump behind the wheel and started traveling towards Norridgewock. Both the officers attempted to stop him on Route 2 but he refused to pull over. They followed him into the town of Norridgewock where he pulled into the church and jumped out of a moving vehicle which was going slow enough that when it collided with another vehicle there was no damage reported and no one was injured,” said Skowhegan Police Chief David Bucknam.
Police say Bouchard led them on a chase that ended when he pulled into the church parking lot and ran naked into the church.
“He was flipping chairs,” said Davis. “They gave him two shots of Narcan, and then he died according to police on my platform. And the interesting thing is our assistant pastor was there, and he began to hear him pray as if he was saying, Father, forgive me.”
“Mr. Bouchard stopped breathing,” said Bucknam. “It took three doses of Naloxone to get him revived and breathing on his own. It was terrifying for both the officers, and I’m sure it was terrifying for Mr. Bouchard himself.”
“Do I think this was an intentional incident? Not a chance. The man was looking for a place to hide,” said Davis. “My hope for him and those that are suffering right now is that they would find peace and strength and help.”
Pastor Davis said he thanks their security team and law enforcement for how they handled the situation and said all of his parishioners treated the situation respectfully.
“This was Mother’s Day. A Mother’s Day that we will never forget.”
He said they will have extra security next weekend.
Bouchard was taken to a hospital, then to Somerset County Jail.
He was in court Monday morning.
Bail was set at $1,000.
“I just think that was a scary situation for everybody involved. A young man such as Mr. Bouchard, who found himself in a situation yesterday that not only jeopardized his life but everybody else’s that is in the Skowhegan community including my officers, who have to deal with him. So, I’m just happy that the outcome, that there were no injuries and everybody is going to come out of this ok and we hope that Mr. Bouchard will be able to get the treatment that he obviously needs, to be able to kick whatever habits that he may have so that he can become a productive member of society,” said Bucknam.