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His 'demons' were too much

By Izaskun E. Larraņeta

Publication: The Day

Published March 16. 2013 4:00AM   Updated March 16. 2013 8:28AM

Within hours of learning that he was the subject of a sexual misconduct investigation involving teenage boys, Tim Devine withdrew $12,000 from his bank account and typed a suicide note that he folded and put in his shorts pocket.

In the note, Devine, a Poquonnock Bridge firefighter and owner of a workout business, said farewell to his parents and siblings, apologized to his co-workers and thanked his friends for never judging him.

"No matter how many good deeds I tried to accomplish through firefighting or exposing people to the world of fitness, nothing erased the demons that I had to face everyday inside," the note read. "Over time, it just became more obvious that I was going to be forever void of being truly happy. I don't know what else to say."

Devine shot himself in the head in the early morning hours on July 24, 2012, ending an armed standoff with police at the University of Connecticut's Avery Point campus. The university was placed on lockdown during the incident.

The note was included in a 192-page investigation, recently made public, conducted by the Eastern District Major Crime Squad on Devine's suicide and the standoff. The report includes witness statements, interviews with family and friends, police accounts of the incident, an autopsy report and diagrams of the scene.

The report excluded photos, investigative techniques, teletypes and two signed witness statements because that information is not disclosable under the Freedom of Information Act, the records request form said.

The investigation of the sexual assault allegations was conducted by Groton Town and City police departments.

According to the state police report, Groton Town officers called Devine and asked him to come to the station on Monday, July 23. Devine agreed, but a short time later, after learning he was the subject of sexual assault complaints, he called police back and told them he wouldn't speak with them and that he was going to kill himself.

The alleged victims attended the CrossFit gym in Groton, which Devine owned. The gym has since closed.

Lt. John W. Varone, detective commander in the Groton Town Police Department, said his department's investigation into the allegations was closed by "exceptional means," explaining the investigation went as far as it could and will not proceed any further as a result of Devine's death.

The investigation was conducted by the Special Services Division, which investigates crimes against children and crimes that are sexual in nature. Varone said the department doesn't comment on cases involving the Special Services Division because of their nature.

Groton City Police Chief Thomas Davoren said the department had received complaints and was investigating them, but never got the opportunity to interview Devine. "And we very much would have wanted to talk with Mr. Devine," he said.

'Tim was going
to shoot himself'

The report said Devine had called a friend and co-worker, Jeffrey Douchette, three times on July 23. Douchette said that after the second conversation it was clear that Devine was suicidal, but that at the time Douchette didn't know why.

Douchette called town police after the second conversation and learned they were looking for Devine.

Devine called Douchette a third time around 9:25 p.m. on July 23 and told him he was going to hide $12,000 on the Avery Point campus and would text him the location before he killed himself. Devine said he was leaving the money to pay for his burial expenses, according to police.

Douchette said he went to Avery Point and was allowed to talk to Devine from behind cover. He tried to convince Devine to give up his gun, but Devine refused.

Police interviewed Douchette on July 25 and Aug. 3. Police said he told them, "No matter what was said to Tim or what the police tried, Tim was going to shoot himself. I felt that way when I talked with him on July 23 and I feel that way now."

Local police had issued an alert to report any sighting of Devine once he had threatened to take his life. Devine's car was found before 10 p.m. on the campus, and he was located about a half hour later.

Shortly after police located Devine, a town police negotiator began to talk to him via cellphone and attempted to get him to put his weapon down. The report said Devine told the negotiator his life was over and that no one would believe that he didn't assault the teens. The negotiator told state police that Devine was under investigation for five complaints of sexual assault, the report said.

"Devine stated that his actions regarding contact with the boys was misconstrued as he was just placing his hands on them to position their bodies correctly," the negotiator told police.

After hours of negotiations, Davoren, then a captain, requested the assistance of the State Police Tactical Unit, which took over the scene around midnight on July 24.

Devine, according to the report, at times held the gun against his head, under his chin or rested it by his waist.

During this time, the negotiator continued to talk to Devine. Cellphone contact with him ended around 1:27 a.m. It was not clear whether Devine ended the call or whether the phone's battery died.

Around 1:41 a.m., police used a public address system from a tactical vehicle along with a long-range acoustic device to speak with Devine. As daylight approached, the tactical team decided it would be difficult to contain the standoff during the day for numerous reasons, including the tide, fog and terrain.

At 3:31 a.m., the tactical unit decided to carry out a plan to disarm Devine by deploying two distraction devices and firing rubber projectiles at him. Two tactical team members fired five rounds each.

Douchette said he heard Devine yelling " ... I can't believe you did that." Douchette also heard someone yelling at Devine, "Put the gun down, put the gun down and come up here."

Devine never relinquished control of the weapon, the report said. He raised the gun to his head and was heard saying twice, "Don't make me do this."

Another five rounds were fired. Devine then shot himself with a Sig Sauer P239 9mm pistol that was registered in his name. He died around 3:45 a.m.

No contact

Police also interviewed family and friends. Some of them had gone to the scene and attempted to make contact with Devine, but police at the scene would not allow it.

Devine's brother, Shane, arrived at Avery Point around 11:49 p.m. and wanted to speak with Devine but was denied.

Their father, Michael, was in Boston to pick up his daughter at the airport. He learned from Shane that Tim was at Avery Point and accused of sexually assaulting someone at CrossFit.

Michael Devine said he got to the scene at 2 a.m. but was not allowed to see his son.

"I believe that I could have made a difference if I was allowed to talk to Timothy," he told police. "I believe I could have talked him down. ... I think Tim's state of mind was experiencing psychological duress because of the allegations. I think he was pushed to the edge."

Michael Devine told police that the allegations were just that. He told police that his son was a "pure" person who was religious and studied the Bible. When asked Thursday for comment on the incident, Michael Devine declined.

Some of his friends and co-workers at the gym told police they never saw Tim Devine have any inappropriate contact with minors.

Lt. J. Paul Vance said it is up to the trained negotiator and the operations commander to decide whether family members should be allowed to talk with someone in a standoff situation.

Vance said cellphone contact was lost with Devine and that police would never put civilians in harm's way, especially when the person involved was armed.

"They have to evaluate and decide if allowing someone to talk would inflame the situation or do the opposite," Vance said. '"I'm sure they did what was best for the situation they were facing."

i.larraneta@theday.com

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