A campus visit on Monday from a former Bangor High School student led to his being barred from school property and fed false rumors of a potential threat of violence against students, officials said.
Simon Ames, 19, of Bangor, a 2017 graduate of Bangor High School, came back to visit some of his former teachers on Monday, Bangor Superintendent of Schools Betsy Webb said.
“He had some very positive interactions, and then unfortunately some not so positive, in which there was disrespectful language used,” she said. “We really wanted this student to calm down.”
As a result, school and district administrators issued a no-trespass order against Ames blocking him from any school district property, Webb said. That order was still in effect on Wednesday.
Bangor police were notified and arrested Ames later Monday evening on unrelated charges for violating a protection order filed by his girlfriend’s mother, court documents said. Ames made his first appearance in court at the Penobscot Judicial Center on Wednesday, and is being held at the Penobscot County Jail.
The district shared the news of the no-trespass order and the arrest on social media on Tuesday, and said that Bangor police would be on campus Wednesday, “to support a feeling of security.” Parents of high school students were also alerted in a phone message Tuesday evening.
Another alert of the no-trespass order was sent to parents in a phone message and email on Wednesday morning, Webb said.
But later that evening, the police and Bangor High School Principal Paul Butler received several calls from parents and students who were concerned about rumors that Ames threatened violence at the school, according to the affidavit filed Wednesday in support of the unrelated charges.
Bangor Police investigated, but found no evidence to support the rumors, according to Webb and the affidavit. No firearms were found on Ames or his property.
To calm parents’ fears, another phone message alert was sent out Tuesday morning, along with an email, Webb said. But some on social media criticized the vagueness of the alerts, and others chastised the district for not taking the rumors seriously enough.
“I fully understand that given the things that have happened across this country, people are on heightened alert. We’re all on heightened alert,” Webb said.
“It’s helpful for students to go directly to administration, so we can filter through what is factual and what is not,” she said. “Obviously if we have a school threat, we will communicate that immediately.”
— BDN writer Judy Harrison contributed to this report