He was in Portland on vacation with his family, their last stop on a nine-day holiday in the United States from their home in Bergen, Norway.

And on Wednesday, police say, a day before he was scheduled to return home, 28-year-old Espen Brungodt wrote a short email.

“Time for more police to die,” the 82-word message begins. “We are getting our Sig Sauer MCX .223-caliber rifles ready, and very soon, my partners will head down to the Portland Police Department on 109 Middle St.”

Four hours later, Brungodt was in handcuffs, expected to face federal charges of making the electronic threats, which were emailed to several law enforcement agencies and two staffers at the Portland Press Herald. Brungodt is suspected of tweeting similar threats around the same time as the emails Wednesday from a Twitter account that was suspended within hours.

But friends in Norway who have known Brungodt for years say the allegations against him do not square with the painfully quiet, socially awkward young man they know, who enjoys all-day movie marathons and anime cartoons, and has no interest in violence or weapons.

“He’s the most peaceful person I’ve ever known,” Marius Dagestad, 27, said in a phone interview from Norway. Dagestad met Brungodt in school in 2008 or 2009, and has been close with him since. “He had no reason to do anything like this. It makes no sense in my head. I would say that he’s definitely not responsible for this, and he’s not a person that could ever do anything like this.”



Dagestad and two other Norwegians who know Brungodt said Wednesday that the criminal charges are a complete shock, and that Brungodt has never shown aggression or animosity against authorities. Dagestad said the charges are so out of character for his friend that he wonders if someone might have hacked Brungodt’s email account and sent the messages posing as Brungodt.

All three said Brungodt was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. Many people with Asperger’s often struggle with social interactions, and often find a social outlet in their interest in specific subjects.

Friends said Brungodt showed some classic traits of someone with Asperger’s.

“He has a tendency to be intense and bubbly about themes which interest him, but otherwise not,” said Miguel Tobar Davoy, who said the two studied together in 2012 and swapped movies on occasion. “But he’s a guy that rarely smiles. And he doesn’t like superficial small talk.”

Brungodt is not very interested in his appearance, his friends said. He wears sweatpants and T-shirts that sometimes don’t fully cover his belly, and won’t comb his hair before going out.


“Some ‘Aspies’ have a tendency to look quite stoic and dour,” said Davoy, using a shorthand term for people with Asperger’s. “And that’s certainly something that is applicable to Espen.”


While he struggles with casual conversation, Brungodt opens up to others when talking about science fiction and fantasy movies.

Dagestad, who is close to Brungodt, said the two attended a Norwegian folk high school together, a one-year program that supplements traditional education and gives students time to explore their interests. The schools have no grades, and are often boarding schools where students meet lifelong friends.

For Brungodt, his passion was movies, and Dagestad was one of only two trusted friends.

“He had a very hard time communicating with other people. He was kind of in his own world with his movies,” Dagestad said. “He felt that there was really no reason to speak to other people who didn’t like or understand what he was doing himself. At the school, it was me, him and another friend that did stuff, really. He didn’t bother with other people.”


They attended the Adgar Folk High School near Kristiansand, Norway, along the country’s southern coast.

Another person who knew him at that school, Katrine Lea, said she lost touch with Brungodt after they left the school around 2008-09, but her recollections of him are similar to others.

“He was a quiet 19-year-old, interested in anime, and kept to himself or hanged with his fellow anime buddy,” Lea said in a Facebook message. “We lived at the school, shared every meal, and went on a two-week study trip to Cuba.”


Since that time, Dagestad has stayed in touch with Brungodt through Skype or via online chats, but has not spoken to his friend in about a year.

Asked whether Brungodt had interests in American politics or the social movement of Black Lives Matter, which was mentioned in the tweets allegedly made by Brungodt, Dagestad was emphatic.


“He had absolutely no interest in any kind of politics whatsoever,” Dagestad said. “I try myself because I think it’s interesting, but he didn’t want to have anything to do with it. It wasn’t his field.”

After the high school year was over, Dagestad said, his friend applied for jobs and returned to Bergen, where he lives with his mother.

None of the friends contacted knew if Brungodt is currently employed. His only social media presence appears to be periodic postings on Facebook about the “Star Wars” movies.

In the last week, friends said that photos of Brungodt traveling in the United States popped up on his account.

Lea forwarded several photos taken of Brungodt around several tourist spots in Boston: sightseeing at the USS Constitution, along the Boston waterfront, touring a decommissioned naval destroyer.

The most recent photos, some as recent as Wednesday, show him in Naples, Maine, at Long Lake, in front of the police station on Peaks Island, and in his hotel room at the Residence Inn on Fore Street.

Hours later in that same hotel room, FBI agents and Portland police put him in handcuffs.


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