A young man whose social media post this week appeared to threaten people in Skowhegan and prompted the closure of schools was arrested on a charge of terrorizing, police said Friday.

Skowhegan police Chief David Bucknam said Janathian Viles was released on personal recognizance bail after police Officer David Daigneault, the school resource officer for Maine School Administrative District 54, interviewed Viles at the Brewer Public Library on Thursday.

Janathian Viles Photo courtesy of Skowhegan police

Skowhegan Area High School and other MSAD 54 schools were closed Thursday out of an abundance of caution after authorities deemed a photo posted to Snapchat by Viles was threatening in nature.

In addition to Skowhegan, the district has schools in Canaan and Norridgewock, but also serves the towns of Cornville, Mercer and Smithfield.

Viles earlier told the Morning Sentinel he was the one who posted the photo and the one shown holding a weapon. The image shows Viles with his face obscured by the weapon, which he said was a BB gun but police noted looked like a real handgun. It had a caption that included a variation of a racial slur that read, “Coming for you Skow (N-word).”

Viles told police he lives in Corinth, which is about 40 miles northeast of Skowhegan. The gun he was holding in the photo looked like a real Glock handgun but actually was an airsoft gun that fires plastic pellets and operates on CO2, according to Bucknam. A friend of Viles brought the gun to police, he said.


Bucknam said Viles reached out to Daigneault and was convinced to meet with him.

He said police and school officials worked well together after first learning of the photo.

“Luckily, everyone is safe and back to school today, and we’re very excited about it,” he said.

Viles told the Sentinel he is 18 years old and was a student in the MSAD 54 adult education program, but Bucknam said he is now prohibited from being on all MSAD 54 property. The chief said Viles was cooperative during the course of the investigation.

MSAD 54 Schools Superintendent Jon Moody said Thursday he received reports late Wednesday there was a “concerning” post on social media that was not directed at schools but featured the image of an armed person. He initially intended to keep schools open with students in a lockout situation where they wouldn’t be able to go outside. But police advised schools be closed out of an abundance of caution as they investigated.

Viles said the language used in the post is consistent with the way he talks with friends, and said he never meant to cause anyone harm.

He had visited Skowhegan about once a week, either to see friends or take classes in the adult education program, and posts online to let people know he will be in town.

“I didn’t want to scare people,” Viles said. “Maybe I’ll just stop with social media. Like, if I can’t have the freedom to post whatever I feel like on my story, then I guess I shouldn’t be posting at all.”

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