PORTLAND, Maine — The Portland Police Department is investigating an email sent to local media warning that several people planned to target officers with assault rifles and explosives, echoing recent attacks on law enforcement in other parts of the country, Chief Michael Sauschuck said.
The threat said multiple people intended to use assault rifles to “shoot and kill as many police officers as they can” from a “position at the top of the parking garage,” which he or she said was boobytrapped, according to The Portland Press Herald, which received the email.
“Time for more police to die,” the paper quoted the email as saying, in part.
The garage “was cleared with explosive detection canines this morning, right after the threat was received,” Sauschuck said. No bomb has been found, but the garage will remain closed, he added.
“This is the first time we have had pointed threats made directly at the Portland Police Department and our police officers,” Sauschuck said.
WGME reported that the Cumberland County Courthouse was being evacuated shortly after the press conference.
A series of tweets posted this morning echoed the threat. The Twitter user who posted the tweets has since been suspended.
The threat to kill Portland police officers with an assault weapon comes just weeks after two high-profile attacks against law enforcement in other states, and one day before Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was scheduled to hold a high-profile rally at Merrill Auditorium.
A gunman shot six officers in Baton Rouge last month, killing three. That attack came less than two weeks after a sniper in Dallas killed five officers and wounded seven others at a previously peaceful Black Lives Matter protest. The Dallas attack was called the deadliest event for police since the terror attacks of 9/11.
The department is focusing the investigation on identifying the source of the emailed threats and is coordinating with other law enforcement agencies, Sauschuck said.
“We have a lot of assets and forces focused on this investigation at this particular time,” he said.
The police department remains open, he said.
“We are making sure that our officers are safe and our community is safe,” Sauschuck said.