The Maine gunman accused of fatally shooting four people and wounding three others on Tuesday was released from prison just days earlier and has a violent criminal past that would have prevented him from legally possessing a gun, according to state records.
Joseph Eaton, 34, was charged over the past decade with more than a half-dozen crimes, records show. Prior convictions include aggravated assault, a felony that would prevent him from legally having a firearm.
Eaton most recently served an eight-month sentence for assault last year and was released on Friday – just four days before the shootings – from the Maine Correctional Center in Windham, said Anna Black, director of governmental affairs for the Maine Department of Corrections.
In August 2021, Eaton assaulted a fellow inmate, 34-year-old Dustan James Bentley, who is serving a 40-year sentence for the 2019 murder of his roommate, the Bangor Daily News reported.
Eaton’s prior convictions in Maine also include assault on a child under the age of 6, domestic violence assault and operating under the influence of intoxicants, according to the newspaper, along with a 2018 conviction in Florida for illegally possessing a gun.
The shooting began Tuesday morning at a residence in Bowdoin, a rural town about 30 miles northeast of Portland, where four victims were found shot to death.
Authorities say the gunman then opened fire about 25 miles south of Bowdoin on Interstate-295, wounding three people, including one critically.
The names of the victims were not released, and state police did not discuss any possible motive. The four bodies were taken to the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta for positive identification and autopsies.
The origins and ownership of the firearms used in Tuesday’s shootings were unclear. State police declined to comment on the weapon that was used.
Eaton is due in court later this week.
Fox News’ Paul Best and the Associated Press contributed to this report.