A 13-year-old student in the Bangor public school system was arrested Wednesday after threats of violence from a fake social media account sent the city’s schools into lockdown mode early Wednesday morning.
Bangor police charged the student with terrorizing, a Class C felony, after several students learned of the threats the student had made on social media, according to a news release from the Bangor Police Department.
Police found the student, who was using a fake account, following a number of interviews and with the help of internet service providers.
All of Bangor’s public schools went into lockdown mode early Wednesday morning following the threat on social media. The lockdown was lifted shortly before 10 a.m. after police determined the schools faced no “ongoing or imminent threat,” said Bangor police Sgt. Wade Betters and the city’s school superintendent, Betsy Webb.
The threat was made against James F. Doughty School on Fifth Street and Bangor High School off Broadway, but all schools were placed on lockdown in response. Police released few details about the nature of the threat, other than to say it was “an anonymous threat” toward some of the city’s public schools.
During a lockdown, the school building is locked and no one is allowed to enter or exit the building, Webb wrote in a letter to parents Wednesday afternoon. Inside, students remain with adult supervisors.
At Bangor High School, staff instructed students to head to their first-period classrooms around 8 a.m., and they were informed of the lockdown once in those rooms. Students sat on the floor, taking cover behind lab benches or with their backs to the wall. They sat in the dark with the shades drawn.
Everyone in the classrooms remained silent during the lockdown that went on for almost two hours, according to Marie Tessier, a parent who was in a classroom with her daughter and some other students.
A number of other area schools either instituted lockdowns or took other security measures, including stepped-up police patrols, as Bangor’s public schools addressed the threat of violence made via social media.
In Orono, police Chief Josh Ewing said the town’s police department received a call just before 8 a.m. informing officers about an active shooter at the high school, but that the call was the result of a miscommunication.
Orono’s middle and high schools were placed on a lockdown that was lifted when police determined there was no threat against Orono schools.
Westwood Drive leading up to the schools was blocked as police cordoned off the area. Katherine King, 17, was stopped from going to school by the crossing guard, and when she went back inside her Westwood Drive home, she saw state and local police heading up toward the schools.
“There was miscommunication at some point that the threat was in Orono,” Ewing said. No one was arrested in Orono.
All Saints Catholic School in Bangor and Veazie Elementary School also went into lockdown, according to officials at both schools. Both of those lockdowns had also ended by mid-Wednesday morning.
John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor went into lockdown for an hour starting at 8:20 a.m., according to Head of School Mel MacKay. Administrators there told parents in an email not to come to the school to pick up their children to keep the area traffic-free.
Farther from Bangor, police stepped up patrols around several schools in Hancock County as a result of the threat in Bangor.
Ellsworth public schools were put in a “soft lockdown” — in which some movements around the buildings were restricted and the doors were locked to outsiders — and police reported to Ellsworth High and Elementary Middle schools, Ellsworth police Chief Glenn Moshier said.
Hancock County sheriff’s deputies patrolled Lamoine Consolidated, Sumner Memorial High in Sullivan, George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill and Hancock Grammar, according to a dispatcher. No incidents were reported.
In Hermon, the schools didn’t go into lockdown mode, but police were present at the town’s three schools, said Superintendent Gary Gonyar.
Even though there was no threat in Hermon, that was a precaution the town took as word about the threat in Bangor spread quickly on social media and little reliable information was available, he said.
“I think, obviously, with the widespread social media, word spreads quickly. Often incomplete or misinformation is circulated,” he said. “That can raise concern in districts that aren’t involved.
“We’d always rather err on the side of caution than ignore any type of threat or any perceived threat.”
BDN writers Charles Eichacker and Nick Sambides Jr. contributed to this report.