ELLSWORTH, Maine — A student in the city’s public school system has been charged with filing a false report after accusing another student of threatening to shoot up an Ellsworth school, according to the local schools superintendent.
Classes were canceled Thursday in Ellsworth as a result of the reported threat, which school officials did not know was false until Thursday afternoon. Ellsworth schools Superintendent Daniel Higgins did not release the name of the student who falsely accused another of making the threat, or identify the school where the violence supposedly was going to occur.
In a statement sent out Thursday afternoon to parents, Higgins said the parents of the student who reported the threat contacted police Wednesday evening after their child supposedly had received the threat from another student. By 11:30 that night, police had not been able to confirm or rule out that a threat had been made, Higgins said.
“Based on that information and in the interest of the safety and security of our students and staff, I made the decision to close school today to afford law enforcement time to complete their investigation,” Higgins said in the statement.
After resuming the investigation early Thursday morning, police concluded that “there was no threat of violence made against Ellsworth schools by a student” on Wednesday, Higgins said.
The student whose parents contacted police Wednesday evening has been charged by police with creating a false public alarm or report, Higgins said. In addition, school officials will “determine appropriate consequences for violations of school policy,” he said.
Schools in Ellsworth are expected to be in session Friday, Jan. 4, as scheduled, he said.
The perceived threat of violence was the fourth such incident in Ellsworth in the past 12 months that resulted in a police investigation, but the only one of them that turned out to be a false report.
In February, an Ellsworth High School student made a threat in an online gaming site that he wanted to become “the most notorious school shooter in American history,” according to a prosecutor. In October, another boy threatened to “shoot up” the high school. In December, two middle school students were charged with terrorizing after they allegedly made threats of violence at Ellsworth Elementary Middle School.