A 28-year-old Norwegian national visiting Maine on vacation has been charged with threatening to kill Portland police officers.

Officials said Espen Brungodt was arrested about 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Residence Inn at 145 Fore St. by the FBI and Portland police.

Brungodt made death threats against police officers on Twitter and in emails, police said. The threatening messages were sent Wednesday morning to the Portland department and to other public safety officials in Maine, and to two staffers at the Portland Press Herald.

The email was titled “I am going to kill more police,” and said the author and an unknown number of partners were “getting our Sig Sauer MCX .223-caliber rifles ready, and very soon, my partners will head down to Portland Police Department on 109 Middle St. There they will shoot and kill as many police officers as they can.”

The name on the email sent to the Press Herald was Espen Brungodt. The author of the email responded to a request for comment by saying that he was staying in Room 215 at the Residence Inn hotel and dared police to arrest him. “Inform the authorities of this information, if they want to arrest me,” he wrote.

A call to the hotel asking to be connected with a guest named Espen Brungodt was transferred to Room 215. When the Press Herald called police to share the information, police officials said they were aware of the location.


The police headquarters on Middle Street and an adjacent parking garage on Newbury Street that is used by police officers and the public were both mentioned in the email and tweets, including their addresses. The nearby Cumberland County Courthouse was evacuated for the rest of the day as a precaution.

The author threatened to “get into position at the top of the parking garage” and said it was booby-trapped with explosives. Police searched the parking garage Wednesday with dogs and found no explosives.

Threats similar to those in the emails were posted Wednesday on Twitter from an account belonging to a John Mackenzie with the handle @brownclown42. The account, which was created in October 2015, tweeted only three times –the threatening tweets sent Wednesday. The tweets included the hashtags #portlandme and #blacklivesmatter.

The account, which was suspended by Twitter within hours, followed 85 accounts, the majority of them U.S. airports, U.S. military or law enforcement agencies, and American media outlets.


The threats came at a time of heightened tension nationwide since the murders of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge that followed fatal police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana.


“Obviously we’ve seen a lot of incidents across the country, but we’ve received a great deal of support from the local community here,” Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said at a brief news conference at City Hall before Brungodt’s arrest. “This will be the first time we’ve had pointed threats directly at the Portland Police Department and our police officers.”

Brungodt was arrested without incident at the hotel while family members were present, police said. He was not armed.

At a news conference before the suspect's arrest, Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said, "This will be the first time we've had pointed threats directly" at Portland's department.

These tweets were sent Wednesday from an account bearing the name of John Mackenzie.

“We have a lot of assets and resources focused on this investigation,” Sauschuck said, adding that police were taking steps to ensure that officers and the community were safe. He would not elaborate on what those measures were.

Sauschuck held a late afternoon news conference at the Portland police station, where he assured the public that Brungodt did not have an accomplice.

“At this time, we believe that Mr. Brungodt was acting alone,” Saushuck said. “I can say the city is safe tonight. He was a sole actor in these threats.”

Brungodt was traveling with family members, who were not aware of his actions, police said.


A man who answered the phone Wednesday night in Room 215 at the Residence Inn said he was Espen Brungodt’s father, but declined to give his name.

He wanted the police and the public to know that his son has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate with other people.

“We are shocked because we didn’t realize what he was doing,” the father said. “I don’t know why he did it. He’s not a threat to anyone, except himself.”

He said his son works a few hours a week in Norway, under the close supervision of a helper.

Brungodt, his sister and the father have been vacationing in the United States since July 26 and were scheduled to leave the U.S. Thursday evening on a flight out of Boston.

The father said he will likely remain with his son for his court appearance. His son did not have a lawyer yet.


Sauschuck said police believe that the Mackenzie Twitter account belonged to Brungodt.

“We believe that John Mackenzie and Mr. Brungodt are one and the same person,” he said.

Asked if police thought Brungodt had been pranked or tricked into making threats against Portland police, Sauschuck said: “We have seen no indication of that.”


The chief praised the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for their assistance and said that Brungodt initially will face federal charges of transmitting threatening communications.

Brungodt was held Wednesday night in the Cumberland County Jail in Portland.


The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Brungodt is scheduled to make his initial appearance Thursday in U.S. District Court in Portland, when the charges against him will be made public.

Sauschuck was asked about his officers’ reaction to the threat, given the violence against police across the nation in recent weeks.

“For all of us it was an action-packed day,” the chief said. “We roll with things.”

Portland police issued a statement after Brungodt’s arrest thanking and reassuring the community.

“It is unfortunate that recent national events remind us that some will threaten and try to injure police officers. Portland remains a safe city and the police department is thankful for the widespread and strong community support it receives,” the statement said. “Police will continue working to protect citizens and working in partnership with the community to help keep everyone safe.”



A Facebook page for Espen Brungodt shows he lives in Bergen, a city in Hordaland, Norway. He attended Årstad Videregående Skole, or Årstad Upper Secondary School.

Police officials in Bergen referred questions about Brungodt to the Norwegian Embassy.

Sauschuck said he did not know why Brungodt was visiting the United States or why he was in Portland.

A person who answered the after-hours embassy phone Wednesday evening in Washington, D.C., said he would refer all questions about Brungodt to an embassy official, but the individual said the embassy does not typically comment on criminal matters involving Norwegian citizens.


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