SKOWHEGAN — Three boys were taken away in handcuffs from Skowhegan Area High School just after noon Thursday after a second threat posted on social media this week threatening violence.

Thursday’s social media message said that closing the schools in the Skowhegan area the previous day only makes the sender, called “Ray Dar,” want to kill more.

“You will be the first to die,” the Snapchat post read. It wasn’t immediately clear whom the message was directed at, but it quickly spread on social media and was confirmed Thursday by police as a second threat.

Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam said two of the boys — one a Skowhegan Area High School freshman, the other a sophomore — were arrested and taken to the Long Creek Youth Development Center in South Portland. Both are charged with class C felony terrorizing, punishable as an adult by up to five years in prison.

Both of the students are juveniles, so their names will not be released until a formal juvenile petition is filed in a felony case.

It was the freshman student who allegedly posted the first threat Tuesday night, according to Bucknam. The second threat allegedly was made by the sophomore.

The Mount View school complex in Thorndike also was locked down Thursday after a student received a threatening message on social media, allegedly from a person involved in the threats to Skowhegan schools.

The Skowhegan Police Department and the State of Maine Computer Crimes Unit worked together starting Tuesday evening. “During the course of the investigation, it was found a freshman from Skowhegan (Area) High School had sent this post,” Bucknam said. “A search warrant of his residence yielded laptop computers, phones and memory sticks. All of the items were seized as evidence.”

As both agencies were working on the initial investigation, the second threat was posted with the same user name — Ray Dar — to Instagram. A second investigation was launched and the unnamed sophomore was interviewed and charged.

“The two suspects do not appear to have been working together in regards to these threatening posts,” Bucknam said.

Bucknam said three brothers were detained for questioning initially. One brother was arrested and the other two were released to their mother. The second boy arrested was from a different family, he said.

The Snapchat message — on the heels of other threats of violence in the aftermath of the mass school shooting in Florida — reportedly was posted about 6:30 a.m. Thursday and followed an earlier message Tuesday night that prompted schools to be closed saying, “Skowhegan, February 28, 2018 you’re all DEAD.”

Frank Griffin, assistant district attorney for Somerset County; Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam; Maine State Police Detective Abbe Chabot, of the Major Crimes Unit; and other local police, state troopers and detectives arrived about 11:30 a.m. Thursday at Skowhegan Area High School.

Authorities had assembled Thursday morning at the Skowhegan Police Department before descending on the high school, where they conducted interviews for about 40 minutes. Three boys — whose identities were not revealed because police had not filed any charges — were cuffed and loaded into waiting police cruisers. Bucknam said the boys were being detained for questioning.

Two of the boys appeared to be small and young. A third was tall and appeared to be older than the other two.

One of the boys looked directly at a reporter as the boy sat, cuffed, in the back seat of a Skowhegan police cruiser, expressionless. When asked what he had done, the boy stared at the reporter, saying nothing.

Meanwhile, a woman stood by her vehicle in front of the school as the boys were delivered to three waiting police cars.

“It’s your father that’s done this to you!” she shouted at the older boy. “Your father has done this.”

“That’s what I was thinking,” the boy yelled back over his shoulder as he was led away.

Skowhegan police early Thursday afternoon carried out a search warrant at a home on Turner Avenue, looking for evidence. Police completed the search about 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

Maeghan Maloney, district attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties, said in an email about 2:30 p.m. Thursday that the investigation continues.

“As of right now, the DA’s office has not filed charges and the investigation is ongoing,” she said.

Local police, the FBI and the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit began investigating the online threats Tuesday night. School Administrative District 54 Superintendent Brent Colbry sent a message just after 9:30 a.m. Thursday to all district parents saying that all the schools were on “Lock-out,” meaning no one can get in without authorization. SAD 54 serves Canaan, Cornville, Mercer, Norridgewock, Skowhegan and Smithfield.

“We wanted to reach out to let you know that we were made aware of a threat just before the start of school this morning,” Colbry’s message reads. “At that point in time many students were already on site. As each school had a police presence, we immediately asked administrators to put each building into ‘Lock-out’ and worked with local law enforcement to ensure that officers would be stationed in the front of schools for the duration of the day.

“With school in session we will be keeping all doors locked, minimizing traffic in the hallways, and we will not be having recess or any outside classes as a precaution. Local Law enforcement will remain at the entrance of each building and is working on this with State and Federal officials. Safety is our top priority and we understand that this an incredibly trying moment for our students, parents, staff and community. We do believe the precautions we have taken are appropriate and that the schools are safe. Law enforcement is on top of the matter and we will update you prior to our normal student dismissal time.”

In Thorndike, Lt. Matt Curtis, of the Waldo County Sheriff’s Department, confirmed that the threat that led to the lockdown at the Mount View school complex was from the same person responsible for the Skowhegan threat, and not a copycat incident.

The lockdown order was later changed to a lockout, and that order was lifted altogether by the afternoon.

Curtis said that police suspected the Mount View threat was related to the Skowhegan threats.

Regoinal School Unit 3’s Mount View school complex serves students from Brooks, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Monroe, Montville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Waldo.

On Wednesday, about 750 students at the elementary, middle and high schools at the Mount View complex were evacuated after a student released pepper spray in the high school.

Curtis said a 16-year-old girl was issued a summons and charged with disorderly conduct and criminal use of disabling chemicals.

The two Mount View incidents — the threat Thursday and the pepper spray Wednesday — were not related, Curtis said, and as of 12:45 p.m., normal school activities resumed at Mount View.

State police also received word of a complaint about threatening, possibly from the same person, Thursday morning. Sgt. Blaine Bronson, of Troop C barracks in Skowhegan, said a woman who runs a day care center for children reported receiving a personal threatening message.

“I spoke to her, but I didn’t see the Snapchat, making some sort of threats to her, but it’s contained at this point. There’s no immediate danger to her,” Bronson said at the barracks, which is near the high school and the school district’s central offices, which also were on lockout Thursday.

“There’s no direct danger to her.”

After reports of the second threat Thursday morning in SAD 54 towns, parents began arriving to take their children home, while other students left on their own. Cars and trucks could be seen streaming by the front door, picking up students and leaving.

One mother, Allison Mantor, of Skowhegan, said she had had enough and was taking her son, a high school freshman, home.

“I’m all done with it. I’m not going to risk it. I don’t trust it,” Mantor said in the school parking lot. “I don’t know why they had us come today. I thought that maybe they’d find something out if they thought it was all of a sudden safe today. I think it’s scary.”

Her son, Keegan Mantor, agreed, saying the whole thing with the threatening messages was “a little bit” scary.

Colbry, the school superintendent, said students were authorized to leave school under the normal early dismissal procedure at the high school.

“Certainly, last night we thought it was safe to return to school,” Colbry said. “But this thing that happened this morning when the kids were coming to school, so we’re dealing with that, so the fact that it’s happened again certainly raises the level” of urgency.

School in SAD 54 will be in session on Friday, Colbry said Thursday afternoon.

Elsewhere in Maine, there have been several school threats and arrests made in the days since the mass shooting Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“AR-15” has become the umbrella term for a range of semi-automatic rifles made by a host of gun makers, NPR reported this week. The “AR” in AR-15, which is widely being used to describe the weapon used Feb. 14 in Parkland, Florida, and is depicted in the image in the first threat Tuesday night in Skowhegan, comes from the name of the gun’s original manufacturer, ArmaLite, Inc. The letters stand for ArmaLite Rifle — and not for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle.”

Morning Sentinel reporter Colin Ellis contributed to this report.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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