MILLINOCKET, Maine — Police said Tuesday that a student at Stearns High School might face charges for allegedly distributing a cartoon depicting violence that led school officials to lock students in classrooms as a security precaution late last week.
They also are investigating whether two other students allegedly “orchestrated a plan” that included the shooting of students with BB guns at dismissal on Friday morning, possibly as part of the incident, said Deputy Police Chief Janet Theriault, the Millinocket Police Department’s spokeswoman. She declined to specify what the charges might be.
No one was injured, and no BB guns were found, Theriault said. The cartoon and discovery of the plan through student statements were among the factors that compelled school officials to initiate the security procedures before dismissing students and staff on their regular half-day schedule on Friday, which was the last day of school for the 2013-14 year.
“It is not all about the cartoon. The paper [featuring the cartoon] is a piece of it,” Theriault said.
Detective Jerry Cox was at the junior-senior high school on Friday morning after Stearns Vice Principal Chris Preble had alerted police and ordered classroom doors locked. School workers had found a middle-school student who had allegedly been distributing the cartoon, which contained the words words “Kill People, Burn” and “School” mixed with expletives, Theriault said.
Cox “learned that the student responsible had orchestrated the plan one day prior and that it allegedly included the targeting-shooting of students by two upperclassman with BB guns when school got out,” Theriault said in a statement.
The words with the “cartoon type character” on the flier are lyrics taken from the song “Radicals” by Tyler the Creator. He is “a controversial rapper and record producer from California whose music is said to be caustic and filled with violence,” Theriault said.
An Internet search of the song revealed lyrics laced with expletives and anti-educational statements. The lyrics include the line, “They want us to go to they schools and be [expletive] miserable at they [expletive] college, studying that [expletive], [expletive] that. Do what the [expletive] makes you happy, cause at the end, who’s there? You.”
The song also contains lyrics cautioning against committing crimes.
Theriault said that one suspect is a female eighth-grader at the junior-senior high school. Two high school boys are persons of interest who might be involved in the incident, she said.
The incident remains under investigation.
“Preventing school violence is a top priority for public safety officials. Collaborating with school administration to increase security measures continues to be an ongoing process. No single factor leads to violence. Oftentimes it is multiple factors. You have to take every threat seriously,” she added.
Millinocket Superintendent Kenneth Smith said school officials will determine how to handle the students when police finish their work. School officials take the incident very seriously, he said.
“As we keep finding out more things from the investigation, we will be taking separate action. There definitely will be [separate action], and it will be serious,” Smith said Tuesday. “We are finding out stuff after the fact, nothing we had any idea about at the beginning.”
The fact that the school year is over “doesn’t mean the issue is going to go away,” he added. “We don’t know everything. We know what we have learned from a few kids, but it clearly is something that, crank or otherwise, we aren’t going to tolerate.”