RSU 19 Schools Alerted After Caller To Walmart Says He Needed A Gun ‘For School’
Schools in RSU 19, which is composed of Corinna, Dixmont, Etna, Hartland, Newport, Palmyra, Plymouth and St. Albans have been on alert all day today (Nov. 15) after a caller to the Walmart in Palmyra said he needed a gun "for school."
According to a report in the Bangor Daily News, a young male called the store asking if they sold assault rifles, reportedly telling the clerk, "I need it for school tomorrow." The report said that the caller hung up after making the statement, and no caller ID was available.
In response to the threat, all of the schools in RSU 19 were operating under shelter-in-place procedures, which restrict outdoor activities and access to school buildings.
In a letter sent to parents on students on Friday morning, RSU 19 Superintendent Gregory Potter outlined the reasoning for the precautions. The complete text of the letter follows below:
I am writing to clarify the events that transpired yesterday afternoon/evening, and this morning. On Thursday afternoon, I received a call from the Newport Police Department regarding a complaint received from (Palmyra) Wal Mart. A Wal Mart caller had inquired about whether the store sold assault rifles. A clerk handling the call transferred the call to the sporting goods department, and the caller quickly said something about needing it “for school,” and then hung up the phone. No direct threat was made toward any specific school, or specific district.
This morning, RSU 19 schools initiated a “shelter in place,” which is a process to have exterior doors locked, have students inside all day, and try to hold school as normal, with controlled access to the buildings through the main entry locations at each school. The Newport PD worked with other law enforcement agencies to step up presence in the area and at school locations, which we appreciate very much. We will continue these procedures for a period of time, moving into next week.
We did not feel that it would be appropriate to implement “school messenger” last night with phone calls that could have resulted in bits and pieces of information being left on answering machines, cell phones, etc. We had to dispel a few inaccurate rumors this morning. Some citizens saw or participated in conversations on social media last night, such as Facebook, where facts were not accurate in some cases. As always, we appreciate calls and inquiries. In any case where a parent decided to keep a child home today, the absence will be excused as an understandable circumstance.
As always, safety is our biggest concern and I appreciate the support and diligence of our Administrative Team, and our wonderful staff. Parents and visitors are reminded to please always check in with our school offices when visiting any of our schools. We appreciate this very much. It is my hope that all have a wonderful fall weekend and as always, we invite calls and other forms of communication whenever anyone has a question, concern or an idea that may be helpful.
According to the Bangor Daily News, the security procedures may be continued into next week.