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Police arrested a 15-year-old boy Monday after officers determined he made a credible threat of violence against Mount View High School in Thorndike.
The student allegedly communicated threats of violence via social media, the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday in a release. He was charged with terrorizing, a Class D offense.
Superintendent Paul Austin of Regional School Unit 3 said Wednesday that administrators learned of a possible threat just as classes were starting on Monday morning. After they found out that something unusual was happening, they quickly got in touch with police officers.
School Resource Deputy Jordan Tozier, detective Dale Brown and Deputy Mariza Gionfriddo worked with school staff to isolate the suspected student and interview him, along with other potential witnesses, according to the sheriff’s office.
“We were able to identify the student immediately, and police were immediately able to identify that it was a credible threat,” Austin said.
Because the teen was charged so soon after the threat came to light, the school never went into lockdown.
“We were fortunate,” Austin said. “I think if there’s ever a good news [aspect to these incidents], it’s that our students are really getting, now, to understand the responsibility of if you see something, say something.”
The school district serves the towns of Brooks, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Monroe, Montville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Waldo. Austin released a letter on Wednesday afternoon via the RSU 3 Facebook page to let the far-flung community know what had happened.
That decision came about after the administration learned late Tuesday that information about the threat of violence was being circulated via social media. School officials informed the sheriff’s office about the social media chatter, and police looked into it to see if there was a new threat.
“They determined at the end of this that there wasn’t anything new,” Austin said. “No threat toward any student or staff.”
Police updated the superintendent around midnight on Tuesday, and that’s when he decided that school did not have to be canceled on Wednesday as a precaution.
“It was a relief,” he said.
Because of the rumors, the RSU 3 school resource officer arranged for additional officers to be at school on Wednesday to help provide some reassurance. And Austin decided to release the letter.
“People are anxious,” he said. “We wanted to certainly reassure folks that they’re safe, and that we’re taking this seriously.”
The superintendent said he wanted to reiterate how important it is for students to let teachers or administrators know if they see something unusual on social media or elsewhere.
“If you hear something, if you see something, say something, please,” Austin said. “The reality is that today, it is all of our responsibility to ensure the safety of our schools. That’s how we do it.”