A Norwegian man accused of sending emails last week threatening to kill Portland police told investigators after his arrest that he has a mental disorder that caused him to become obsessed with the idea of being arrested in America, an FBI agent testified in court Tuesday.

Espen Brungodt, 28, of Bergen, Norway, was ordered held without bail after a two-hour hearing in U.S. District Court in Portland while the case against him on a charge of transmitting threatening interstate communications remains pending.

FBI Agent Patrick Clancy testified that Brungodt told investigators he felt an “adrenaline rush” as he watched from the window of his hotel room in Portland’s Old Port as police responded to his emailed threats Aug. 3.

Brungodt returned to court Tuesday before Magistrate Judge John Rich III for a second time since his arrest. The two-part hearing addressed both bail and probable cause – whether his alleged actions met the criteria of the threatening charge.

At the hearing, Clancy testified that Brungodt told investigators he has Asperger’s syndrome, that his intent in making the threats was to be arrested, and that he had no intention of carrying out any acts of violence.

“What he explained is that folks with Asperger’s become fixated on things, and he became fixated on the police, the courts, jail and being arrested,” Clancy said.

Rich ruled after hearing Clancy’s testimony that probable cause exists, allowing the government to continue prosecuting the charge against Brungodt.

His attorney, federal public defender David Beneman, challenged the charge on grounds that his client never intended to act on his threats.

“I would suggest to you it is not an intent to threaten; it is an intent to be arrested in the American criminal justice system that stems from a mental health issue he suffers from,” Beneman told Rich during the probable cause portion of the hearing.


The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Conley, countered that Brungodt acknowledged the disruption his threat would cause by lamenting, after the fact, that he had not been aware that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump planned a visit to Portland on Aug. 4.

“He wished he had known Donald Trump was coming. He would have made a bigger splash,” Conley said.

Beneman called on Brungodt’s father, Arvid Andersen, to testify at the bail portion of the hearing.

Brungodt had been traveling in New England with his father and his sister, Linn Therese Brungodt, at the time of his arrest. They had first visited Boston for five days, then North Conway in New Hampshire for two days, and planned to end the trip with a two-day stay in Portland before flying out from Boston on Aug. 4.

Andersen testified that his son had never been in trouble before and gave no indication that he planned to make the threats before he did.

“This was a complete shock,” Andersen said.

Andersen said his son first began to show signs of Asperger’s syndrome as a toddler, and that he has lived under some form of supervision all of his life. Andersen said he has traveled many times with his son in the past, including nine trips with a group to London, without any problems.

After Brungodt’s arrest, Andersen brought Linn Therese Brungodt back to the airport in Boston to return home to Norway as planned, but he obtained a leave of absence from work to stay in the United States. He purchased a ticket for Brungodt to fly home this week, had Rich granted him bail.

Under questioning from Beneman, Andersen gave his word that if Rich released his son, he would ensure Brungodt would return to the United States to face the charge.

But Conley argued successfully that Brungodt posed both a risk of danger to the community and of flight if he was released. He emphasized that Norway does not have an extradition treaty with the United States to return fugitives here.

“Isn’t the elephant in the room here that if he gets on a plane, he can’t be compelled to come back?” Rich asked Beneman as he weighed Conley’s argument.


Clancy, who is embedded by the FBI within the Portland Police Department, filed an affidavit with the court last week in support of the charge against Brungodt.

The affidavit includes the text of an email that Brungodt is accused of sending from a Gmail account in his name, titled “Time for more police officers to die,” to Portland Assistant Chief Vernon Malloch and members of the Portland police, as well as other law enforcement agencies and two staff members at the Portland Press Herald.

The email said he 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 messages Wednesday morning triggered a lockdown of the Cumberland County parking garage on Newbury Street while officers with dogs searched for explosives. The nearby Cumberland County Courthouse was evacuated and closed for the remainder of the day as a precaution.

The police department also received a private message on its Facebook account with the same language. The message was sent from a Facebook page belonging to Brungodt, the affidavit said.


Law enforcement officials contacted Facebook and Google, which provided the IP address for the sender’s email and the location where the Facebook page had been accessed. The IP address was traced to the Residence Inn on Fore Street in Portland.

Officials found that Brungodt and two other people entered the United States on July 26 through Boston. The Department of Homeland Security verified that Brungodt is a citizen of Norway and was traveling with two people.

Upon checking the Residence Inn guest register, Clancy found three people had checked into Room 215 on Tuesday.

Brungodt was confronted and arrested in the hotel lobby after being recognized by FBI agents and Portland police sent there to perform surveillance. When asked if there were any immediate threats, he said, “No, it had the desired effect.”

Brungodt has not yet been required to enter a plea to the charge against him since the government has yet to present the case to a grand jury seeking an indictment.

If convicted, Brungodt faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.


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