CAMDEN, Maine — An Instagram message from overseas led to a temporary lockdown and heightened security at the Camden-Rockport Middle School on Monday morning, but in the end, police and school officials said there was no threat to students.
Camden Police Detective Curt Andrick said the investigation began after Rockport police were contacted early Monday by someone concerning the Instagram message. Rockport police referred the matter to Camden police, who contacted School Administrative District 28 officials early Monday morning.
“We have had some concerning messages exchanged over the weekend through social media between eighth-grade students in our school,” Superintendent Maria Libby and Principal Jaime Stone said in an email sent to parents shortly after 8 a.m. on Monday. “At this time we have asked all students to stay put in their homerooms as we investigate the nature of these conversations. The police brought this to our attention and are helping us to investigate. We hope this is not more than an emotional high or low of adolescent behavior but we need to err on the side of caution.”
Libby said in a news release issued later Monday morning that the Instagram message indicated the person sending it was a student at the school and that there was an implied threat to the person and to others. An investigation by the Maine State Police Crime Laboratory found that the message actually came from overseas.
Police were sent to the school during the morning. Student cellphones were collected by school officials and backpacks and lockers were searched, according to officials. The superintendent said the cellphones were collected “in order for the police and school to investigate without the risk of misinformation being communicated to the community in the meantime.”
The “stay in place” lockdown ended after 90 minutes when another email was sent to parents.
“Thank you so much for your patience as we investigated a concern brought to us this morning,” said a second email to parents from the superintendent and principal. “We have determined that there is no reason to be concerned at this time for anyone’s safety. We have verified the information needed to ensure that we can resume our regular day, safely, without concern.”
Andrick wouldn’t say where the Instagram message originated or who received it. Rockport Police Chief Mark Kelley had nothing to add Monday, referring calls to Camden police who are handling the investigation.
Andrick praised the students and staff for their cooperation and remaining calm during the modified lockdown.