UPDATE: No gun found in Portland High School lock-down; 7th-grader admits to middle school threat

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PORTLAND — Portland High School was locked down this morning following the discovery of note threatening violence at the school. 

PHS Principal Michael Johnson said in a letter to parents sent shortly after 2 p.m. that no weapon was found after students and the school were searched.

Johnson reiterated that School Department has zero tolerance for this type of threat. 

“Please know that the School Department and Portland Police Department are meeting today to develop strategies to mitigate these events,” Johnson said. “I am confident that we will be able to address these issues.”

The lock-down came a day after similar notes were discovered at Lyman Moore Middle School on Monday and Tuesday, forcing lock-downs and comprehensive searches of students, lockers and classrooms.

During lock-downs, students are searched and confined to their classrooms and people without security clearance may not enter or leave the building.

Lyman Moore was also locked down on Jan. 4 after a threatening note was discovered in the girls bathroom.

Police Capt. Ted Ross said the recent spat of threatening notes are likely “copy-cat” cases, but the department and the schools are taking each seriously.

“We don’t dismiss any of these instances as insignificant,” Ross said. “It does draw resources and the reaction of fear.”

Ross said the note discovered at Portland High School indicted that a student had a gun. Johnson said the note was written on a bathroom wall.

A seventh-grade boy, Ross said, has admitting to placing Tuesday’s note in the boys restroom at Lyman Moore Middle School. He said police are not ruling out the possibility the boy may have been involved with Monday’s incident, too. 

Ross said police planned to present their case, alleging terrorizing, to the district attorney’s office this afternoon. If eventually convicted of the misdemeanor charge, the boy could be sentenced to community service or probation, but would not likely be sent to the Long Creek Youth Development Facility in South Portland, he said.

Meanwhile, Ross said police are also seeking a follow-up interview with a sixth-grade girl regarding information about who may have placed a threatening note in a girls restroom at Lyman Moore on Jan. 4.

“We’re not saying that this is the person we think did it,” Ross said. “This is an individual among many we talked to.”

Ross said police have sought another interview with girl, but her family has hired a lawyer. No meetings with either the girl’s family or attorney have been scheduled, he said.

“I’m not sure the attorney is going to make the student available,” he said.

According to a memo to Portland city councilors, Superintendent James Morse Sr., Police Chief James Craig and City Manager Joe Gray are expected to meet this afternoon to discuss protocols should these events continue.

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or rbillings@theforecaster.net