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Update: Another bomb threat reported at Topsham school

Casco Bay High School was evacuated Monday, while Topsham Middle School students were told not to arrive.

MAINE, Maine — Update 10:05 p.m.: 

Interim Superintendent Heidi O'Leary, in a letter to parents, said Mt. Ararat Middle School received another bomb threat Monday night.

At 7:15 p.m., a bomb threat was reported at the middle school, O'Leary said. The interim superintendent has been in constant communication with that school's principal and the Topsham Police Department about the situation. 

"We take these threats very seriously, and in light of today's events which led to a thorough search by the Maine State Police Bomb Squad and the Topsham Police Department, I feel that we can hold school tomorrow. Let me assure you, we treat any threat with the utmost seriousness," O'Leary wrote in the letter.

The interim superintendent said there will be increased police presence on campus starting Tuesday morning.

Original story:

Maine schools were barely two weeks into starting their academic year on Monday. 

By mid-morning, kids, young adults, and the staff who care for them had dealt with at least the fourth and fifth threats made to schools around the state.

Leadership at Casco Bay High School in Portland evacuated the building around 9:30 a.m. after Portland police said it received a 911 text message that there was an active shooter in the building.

Students walked more than one mile along the sidewalk to Lyman Moore Middle School, which sheltered them while a press release from Portland police said 15 officers arrived and secured a perimeter around the school, and searched the building.

NEWS CENTER Maine saw a uniformed officer get out of his cruiser, which was parked blocking a pathway toward the school - and sling an AR-15-style rifle over their shoulder.

Few students walked back near the school during this time, and those NEWS CENTER Maine spoke with wished not to be interviewed. 

Steve Mezzapelle stood alone just past the school's sprawling front lawn. He said he worked primarily in the Falmouth School District, but that he was a bus driver and an ed tech, who was working in the latter capacity with a student with special needs, in CBHS, at the time the threat came in.

"My particular student was very nervous. But I just stuck with them, and we just, kind of, kept going," Mezzapelle recalled. "We called their parent just to make sure they knew what was going on in case they heard something."

There was no shooter, and the PPD release called the text message "unfounded." 

A short time before the message was discovered in Portland, Topsham Police Chief Marc Hagan told NEWS CENTER Maine that faculty at Mt. Ararat Middle School returned from their weekend and discovered a voicemail, left Sunday night, that claimed there was a bomb in the school.

Hagan and interim Superintendent Heidi O'Leary said students had not yet begun to arrive, and O'Leary instructed them to go to the high school. When she spoke with NEWS CENTER Maine Monday morning, she said she had not yet made it to the high school to check on the students' emotional well-being. But O'Leary said her faculty were there, making sure the students were fed and tended to.

"Staff are reacting very well because they just take charge of what needs to be taken care of," O'Leary said.

Police, accompanied by multiple K-9 units, found no bomb — another hoax. Hagan said his office would seek a subpoena to track down the source of the call.

O'Leary sent her kids home for the day while Casco Bay bussed students back to finish class. It was an attempted return to normalcy while, in the still-infant school year, threats were becoming a growing trend no one wanted to become normal.


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