FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Kevin Senal could see the kids playing outside from a window in the community room. A group of 10- to 12-year-olds were hanging around in the parking lot, watching another kid attempt to pop wheelies on his bicycle.
Senal, director of Fort Fairfield Parks and Recreation, turned his attention away from them, focusing on the children who were inside playing basketball or doing other activities.
Not long after, the group returned and told Senal — the only adult in the center then — that the boy with the bicycle was threatening to beat them up.
And he had a gun.
“It was kind of hard to process,” Senal said, adding that he was almost in a state of disbelief about what was happening before him when the kids said the boy had a gun.
But Senal acted quickly. He ran to the front of the building where he was told the kid was heading and locked all the doors.
He directed the kids inside the center — about 20 of them altogether — to sit in the stands beside the basketball court while waiting for the police to come. The oldest there was 17 years old, Senal said. The youngest was 10 or 11.
No shots were fired, so Senal knew it was not an active shooter situation, and he said he suspected that the kids understood this, too. They were not crying or anxiously calling their parents; they were just waiting for it to end.
When the police arrived minutes later, the boy with the bicycle and the gun was gone. Kids filtered out of the center on their own, after police said it was safe. Some walked home, others went with their parents who came to pick them up.
The authorities pursued the boy, who was later found at his house and taken into custody. They determined that he slipped a pellet gun into the waistband of his pants, making it impossible to see that it was missing a cylinder cartridge.
Surrounded by his peers, the boy lifted up his jacket to make it seem like he had a firearm, which police said looked like a .357-magnum handgun. But in that moment, it was not easy to tell that it wasn’t a loaded weapon.
Police have since charged the 11-year-old boy with criminal terrorizing and said he is due to appear in court in December for the offense. They have not released any new details on the case since Thursday evening.