ELLSWORTH, Maine — Police will be more visible at Ellsworth schools in the wake of a school shooting threat last week.
Police Chief Glenn Moshier had three extra officers at Ellsworth Elementary and Middle School and at Ellsworth High on Monday, including himself, after Michael Allen, a 19-year-old student, was charged with terrorizing for statements attributed to him in an online gaming forum.
Allen was arrested Thursday and charged with two counts of terrorizing and a single count of violating conditions of release.
School safety is the school system’s top priority, according to a letter Superintendent of Schools Daniel A. Higgins released Sunday on social media.
“I would also remind parents and students of the importance of being aware of issues, concerns, and situations that may impact school, student, or staff safety and reporting those concerns promptly to school administration or law enforcement,” Higgins wrote.
Moshier wants to meet with school officials this week to see how best to increase police interactions with students without making the school seem like a prison. That might involve having officers eat lunch at schools, play with younger students at recess or attend in-school activities, he said.
“We always have a presence in the schools,” Moshier said Monday. “We are already pretty familiar faces there. We are looking to shift it from not being uncommon to it being a daily occurrence.”
A dozen parents came to the school Monday, carrying signs in support of students and also approving of the swift response police had to the threats. More than a dozen residents posted complimentary notices on the Ellsworth Police Department’s Facebook page since Sunday.
“Thank you all for protecting our kids and taking threats so seriously. As a mom who is going to be putting a little boy in kindergarten next year I’m very grateful that I can trust our police department to act quickly,” Kimberly Farley said.
“Never would I have thought it would ever come to this point but thank you,” Sandra Vance Swan said.
“So many of our community members stand behind you as this is not a joke or something to be ignored,” Bethani Gerrish said.
Law enforcement’s response seems swift. According to correspondence associated with the case, FBI Special Agent Raymond T. Goergen received an email alert that originated from Supercell, a mobile game developer based in Helsinki, Finland, at about 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday.
Goergen arrived at the Ellsworth Police Department from Bangor at 4 p.m. He and School Resource Officer Amie Torrey were interviewing Allen 20 minutes later. Allen was in custody at 4:55 p.m., Moshier said.
It’s not clear from the paperwork exactly when the incriminating statements were posted in the Clash of Clans chatroom, but Allen expressed surprise that investigators got to him that quickly, according to Torrey’s arrest report.
“The action taken by this company was fantastic,” Moshier said. “Without it, [the statements] would have gone unrecognized.”
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