ELLSWORTH, Maine — A local teenager charged in February with making online threats to shoot up the local high school has reached a deferred disposition in court that will allow him to stay out of jail if he complies with certain conditions.
The agreement for Michael Allen, 19, was approved Thursday by Justice Robert Murray in Hancock County Unified Criminal Court in Ellsworth.
As part of the agreement, Allen must perform 60 hours of community service, not use online video gaming services and not possess firearms or dangerous weapons. He also agreed to stay out of Ellsworth, returning to the city only after giving the local police department 24 hours prior notice, according to court documents.
Allen was arrested Feb. 21 after he made comments in an online gaming chat room about shooting up the high school. The comments were brought to the attention of the FBI, who then contacted Ellsworth police.
In his comments, Allen said he would “get” the school police resource officer and then the staff in the Ellsworth High School office before pulling the school fire alarm.
“No one will stop me from shooting your sons and daughters,” Allen wrote, according to court documents. “I am ready to go to heaven. I’ll be the most notorious person.”
Allen already was on deferred disposition for prior incidents, including an assault on another high school student and for operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicants, according to court documents. Allen had been expected to graduate from the school in 2017 but had not yet done so because he had not completed his 80 hours of community service that was imposed as a result of the prior deferred disposition.
Allen’s attorney, Steve Juskewitch, said Friday that his client’s fulfillment of the earlier community service requirement was interrupted by the official response to his online threat, which involved his being jailed, evaluated and then sent out of state to live temporarily with his grandmother.
He said Allen has had difficulty dealing with the death of his father and that the online comments were “stupid” and an example of a young man “puffing [himself] up” in an attempt to make an impression with other online gamers.
He said that Allen did not have any guns or an infatuation with firearms, and that he had not made any plans to carry the threat out. Court documents indicate his mother, with whom he lived at the time of the threats, did have firearms in the house that were locked away where Allen could not access them.
Matthew Foster, district attorney for Hancock County, was out of the office Friday and could not be reached for comment.
Allen will have to abide by the court’s conditions for two years. If he does so successfully, a felony terrorizing charge and a misdemeanor charge of violating bail will be dismissed, but a misdemeanor terrorizing charge will remain on his record. If he violates the conditions of his deferred disposition, he will face open sentencing in which he could be ordered to serve up to five years in prison and to pay a fine as high as $5,000.
Juskewitch gave credit to the local police department and to school officials for “avoiding hysteria” in dealing with the incident but still making sure the school was kept safe. Dan Higgins, superintendent of Ellsworth’s schools, promised to improve security at the city’s schools after Allen’s arrest.
“I can’t say enough about how the police and school handled this,” Juskewitch said.
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