Four Kennebec County schools went into lockdown yesterday due to reports of an armed student on the nearby Kents Hill School campus.
The Kents Hill School is an independent coeducational boarding school for students in grades 9 through post-graduate located in Kents Hill, Maine.
Administrators at the private boarding school directed students to stay in their dorms and for non-resident students to report to the Bodman Performing Arts Center while law enforcement officials searched their belongings, according to Central Maine News, but no weapons were found.
Police later reported that the investigation was sparked by an “off-the-cuff comment” made by a student as a “joke.”
According to Central Maine News, Lt. Chris Read of the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office said on Tuesday afternoon that their search of the building led them to conclude that the threat was “unfounded.”
The sheriff’s office was contacted about the concerns at 8:45am, and two deputies were sent to the campus to search the premises.
School administrators were first made aware of the student’s remark about ten minutes prior to this and worked to verify the report with other students before contacting the authorities.
The police had completed their search of the campus by 10:30am and found no threat.
Administrators at the Kent Hill School did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Maine Wire.
Jay Charette, Superintendent of RSU 38 — the public school district responsible for the four schools that went into lockdown yesterday — told the Kennebec Journal that the lockdowns, lasting from roughly 10:30am until 11:05am were ordered “out of an abundance of caution.”
“We made the decision to be extra cautious and keep everyone in place with a lock-in until the situation was resolved in the neighboring school,” Charette said.
The high school and middle schools that were forced to lockdown were located about 3 miles away from the Kent Hill campus, while the elementary school was roughly 4.5 miles away.
This incident comes after other schools throughout the state have had to deal with similar unfounded threats.
Monday of this week, Tompsham middle school students were sent home after the school had received a bomb threat via voicemail the previous night. After searching the premises, the police determined that the threat was unfounded.
Similarly, also on Monday, Casco Bay High School in Portland was evacuated when the police received a text falsely claiming that there was an active shooter. Again, police later determined that there was no threat present.
Late last week, Westbrook High School was also locked down after officials were told by a student that another student had a gun. Although the student in question — a fourteen-year-old male — was in possession of a firearm, it was later found that the weapon was not loaded.
That student is now facing charges for theft of a firearm and terrorizing.
An investigation into the incident at the Kent Hills School is still ongoing.