SANFORD, Maine — The Maine Department of Public Safety said it was aware of multiple active shooter threats on Tuesday against schools throughout the state.
The reports are believed to be a hoax, agency spokesperson Shannon Moss said in a release.
Maine State Police have been assisting local law enforcement agencies with these initial investigations, according to Moss.
The Maine Information Analysis Center, or MIAC, was heavily involved in coordinating these investigations, Moss said.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released the following statement on Tuesday morning:
"The FBI is aware of the numerous active shooter threats that have been made at schools throughout Maine. While we have no information to indicate a specific and credible threat, we will continue to work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to gather, share, and act upon threat information as it comes to our attention. We urge the public to remain vigilant, and report any and all suspicious activity and/or individuals to law enforcement immediately."
The Associated Press reported Monday that FBI officials have identified calls to about 250 colleges, 100 high schools, and several junior high schools across the United States since early June falsely reporting explosive devices being planted at the schools or saying that a shooting was imminent. Officials have not said whether the threats in Maine were related to other threats across the country.
The director of the York County Emergency Management Agency told NEWS CENTER Maine there was no active shooter at Sanford High School.
The Sanford School Department sent the following text to parents and guardians at 9:18 a.m. Tuesday:
"This is a message from the Sanford School Department. Dispatch received a phone call of an active shooter situation at Sanford High School and Sanford Regional Technical Center at approximately 8:30. Emergency procedures have been followed and emergency personnel are on site. We believe the information is not credible. As a safety precaution, students are being evacuated to buses in order to clear the building and are being taken to Memorial Gym."
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the city of Sanford said all students were evacuated from the building.
Around 4:51 p.m. Tuesday, the Sanford School Department sent a news release via email stating the incident began around 8:20 a.m.:
"At approximately 8:20 a.m. Tuesday morning, Sanford Police received a call that there was an active shooter dressed in a black coat and black pants with a long rifle on the first floor of Sanford High School and Sanford Regional Technical Center. The Sanford Strategic Response Team responded immediately, and emergency procedures were activated and followed. Law enforcement agencies, including the Sanford Police Department, found the threat not to be credible. Several other Maine school districts received the same non-credible threat after the Sanford School Department."
The Sanford School Department also said in the news release that classes are canceled tomorrow, Wednesday, for both Sanford High School and Sanford Regional Technical Center students. Classes are set to resume on Thursday, and there will be an increased police presence at all Sanford schools.
Students have the opportunity to pick up belongings on Wednesday, and high school students will also have access to school counselors from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., according to the release.
Portland police said in a Tweet that officers responded to a report of an active shooter at Portland High School. Staff at the school reported there was no shooting, according to police.
Scarborough Superintendent Geoff Bruno sent the following message to the school community Tuesday morning:
"There have been reports of active shooter threats at multiple Maine schools this morning. No threats were made or reported in Scarborough. Law enforcement officials across the state, including in Southern Maine, has been responding to these threats, that have now been deemed to have been false (a hoax) by Maine State Police. Scarborough Police Chief Holmquist and school district leadership have been communicating directly this morning, and are sending additional public safety support to all school buildings as an additional precaution. Again, no threats have been made to any Scarborough school building or town facility. We are monitoring the situation closely and taking every precaution to keep our community safe. Thank you for your patience and understanding."
Gardiner Superintendent Pat Hopkins said in a Facebook post that Gardiner Area High School also received a threat. He said the lockdown at the school has been lifted.
Brunswick police said in a release Tuesday that officers responded to a report of an active shooter at Brunswick High School and the report turned out to be fake.
Houlton police said in a Facebook post that the town's high school and junior high school went into lockdown on Tuesday.
Winslow police said they investigated school threats Tuesday and determined they were not credible.
Ellsworth police said Ellsworth High School also received a threat Tuesday. The school's lockdown was lifted shortly before 11 a.m.
Fort Fairfield police responded to a similar threat Tuesday.
Oceanside High School in Rockland also received a threat, according to police. Officials found there was no credibility to the threat.
Belfast Area High School also went into lockdown Tuesday due to a threat that was determined to be a hoax.
Wiscasset police said in a Facebook post that Wiscasset Middle High School also received a threat Tuesday, and it was deemed not credible.
Maine Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Jennifer McCarthy said Tuesday that the MaineHealth system was prepared for potential patients if the threats were legitimate:
"MaineHealth has been monitoring reports of active shooter incidents in the community that are now confirmed to be widespread hoaxes, according to state officials. Out of an abundance of caution, Maine Medical Center and Southern Maine Health Care activated their Hospital Incident Command System and prepared for potential patients. Both medical centers have since stood down their preparations. Thank you to our care team members throughout the Southern Region who responded quickly and professionally to respond to a potential disaster. The speed of mobilization and coordination to respond to potential incoming patients was absolutely amazing. Even though these incidents were false, they can still be very traumatic for care team members. If you need to discuss your experience with a professional, please consider our online service, Talkspace. This digital platform supports behavioral health and emotional wellness needs from a secure, HIPAA-compliant app (desktop, Android, iOS) for all MaineHealth care team members and their family members age 13 and up."
Suzanne Spruce, senior vice president and chief communication officer for Northern Light Health, released a statement Tuesday saying the hospital system was prepared to respond as needed:
"When we were notified this morning, we responded as we would respond to any potential mass causality event or disaster. We activated our plan by notifying leadership, working with our partner hospitals and other agencies in Maine and across New England, and taking inventory of our collective capacity to handle an influx of emergency patients. We constantly train for these types of situations and were ready today. We are relieved there were no injuries and that we were able to stand down quickly.
No procedures were affected.
All of Northern Light Health was notified and prepared to respond as needed. We also work with partners at hospitals and agencies outside our system. Northern Light Mercy Hospital was first to be notified."
Other schools and police departments across Maine posted to social media on Tuesday about precautions they took in response to threats in the state.