Cape Elizabeth schools locked down, unwanted visitor arrested

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Pond Cove Elementary School and Cape Elizabeth Middle School were locked down Wednesday morning after an unwanted man entered the schools.

Nathan Lavallee, 25, of Philip Road, was arrested at the middle school by Sgt. Kevin Kennedy on a charge of trespassing. Police said Lavallee entered all three Cape Elizabeth schools March 16.

According to Police Chief Neil Williams, Lavallee first entered the elementary school at 8:45 a.m, while the doors were unlocked because children were still entering the school.

School officials were unsettled by Lavallee’s presence and asked him to leave. The school was placed on lockdown and Lavallee left when police were called.

Williams said police then confronted Lavallee when they found him entering the high school. Williams said Lavallee wasn’t aggressive or physical; police drove him home, and told him not to return or he’d be arrested.

At 9:50 a.m., police received a call from the middle school saying Lavallee had broken in through a rear door. The school went into lockdown and Lavallee was arrested.

According to Williams, Lavallee was taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland for evaluation. He wouldn’t specify if the evaluation was psychiatric, but he said Lavallee wasn’t physically injured.

Lavallee was then sent to Cumberland County Jail and was released on bail, Williams said Thursday.

Neither Williams nor Superintendent of Schools Meredith Nadeau said there was reason to believe Lavallee wanted to cause harm.

“Based on the information we have at this time, we have no reason to believe that the visitor intended any harm to students or staff,” Nadeau said in an email to parents Wednesday. “That said, we will be working closely with the Police Department and our school staff to continue to ensure the safety of our students and employees.”

Nadeau said response to the situation was appropriate.

“School staff, particularly the front office staff in each school, did a terrific job of activating our emergency management system and protocols to safeguard the students and staff in our schools,” she said. “We appreciate their quick thinking and calm demeanor in handling what could have been a difficult situation.”

Williams said it’s unclear why Lavallee entered the schools and the incident is under investigation. Police officers were stationed at the schools on Thursday to monitor the campus.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Updated Thursday, March 17, at 10:14 a.m.

Pond Cove Elementary School

I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.