Arrest in Threatening Case Brings Relief to Windham Area Schools
WINDHAM, Maine - Police have made an arrest in connection with two separate threats to Windham-Raymond schools earlier this week. The emails prompted school officials to close all RSU 14 schools for three days.
The 16-year-old boy is believed to have acted alone and was arrested at a Windham residence Tuesday evening. Police are still investigating and offering few details about the case.
Police say the emails were sent Sunday evening to both the superintendent and the principal of Windham Middle School. They were discovered Monday morning. And though the messages were not identical and came from two different sources, Windham Police Lt. Jim Boudreau says they shared a similar theme.
"Both emails were of a threatening tone, and one email made reference to the use of a weapon," he said at a press conference at Windham High School Wednesday morning.
Boudreau said the messages did not target a specific school. That's why police and school officials decided to close all RSU 14 schools, sending more than 3,000 students home Monday morning, shortly after classes began.
By late Tuesday afternoon, Boudreau says police sought a search warrant after the investigation pointed toward one individual.
"On Tuesday evening about 5 p.m., the Windham police and agents of the Maine Computer Crimes Task Force executed that search warrant at a residence in Windham. As a result, a 16-year-old male suspect was identified and subsequently arrested and charged with eight counts of Class C terrorizing" - eight counts for each school that was evacuated because of the threats.
Each count is punishable by up to five years in prison for an adult, but Boudreau says it's unclear what the punishment for a juvenile could be. He says the 16-year-old suspect is a resident of Windham, but not currently a student. As a result of the arrest, RSU14 Superintendent Sandy Prince says all schools will open Thursday.
"I've requested from the police and the sheriff's department to have a presence at our schools for the rest of the week, and that's just for the sake of comfort," Prince said.
Counselors will be available, and Windham High School Principal Chris Howell says he'll adjust schedules to allow some time for discussion. "But part of tomorrow is also to get kids back into a routine and back into school as usual," Howell said.
That's something Windham High School junior Nathaniel Dorr is looking forward to. "You know, I actually do - I wish I could get back into school," he says.
Dorr met up with his friend, Caitlin Harrison, at lunchtime Wednesday at Corsetti's Market before heading out to a movie. Harrison is a recent Windham High grad home from college, but her brother is in middle school. She says when she heard about the threats, she felt shock.
"And a little bit of disgust - like, who would do that to 3,000-plus students?" Harrison says. "I mean, you terrify them all."
The Maine Department of Education says schools only report bomb threats, and there have been five made to Maine schools this year. Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland says, whatever form the threat takes, most of the time suspects are caught. "Nine and half times out of 10, it is a bomb threat, which police have dealt with for years now," he says.
Windham Police Lt. Jim Boudreau says the investigation is ongoing, but he says the Maine Computer Crimes Task Force was instrumental in developing a lead quickly. He declined to discuss how the boy was identified. A hearing for the 16-year-old suspect is scheduled in juvenile court Thursday afternoon.