University of New Hampshire (UNH) Police Chief Paul Dean said there was never a threat to the campus community from the alleged social media post this past Saturday night and the University of Maine (UMaine) has settled their investigation of the case.
A social media post that circulated Saturday night warned of a potential threat of a 20-year-old male. The UMaine Police Department conducted a search and investigation for the individual in Maine and has since concluded the investigation. Concern arose among the UNH community as word spread that the man supposedly had ties to UNH. Although the threat wasn’t present in Durham, the UNH Police Department was well prepared and properly staffed in case a threat did arise, per Chief Dean.
UMaine police alerted the community and encouraged everyone to remain vigilant but did not lockdown campus. “Due to an abundance of caution,” Dean said, there was increased police presence Sunday. The police department later announced Monday morning that it “conducted a thorough investigation and after careful analysis has determined that there is no active threat to the university community.”
Dean said UNH was in constant communication with UMaine’s police department and the individual’s phone was pinged, revealing him to be in Maine. As a precaution, UNH police presence was increased with extra patrols. Dean spoke to the Portsmouth Herald Sunday but did not issue a statement to the UNH community as he did not want to raise a panic.
“From our standpoint, we knew there wasn’t a threat,” he said. Dean wasn’t willing to put out a statement based on “unverifiable” social media postings. In hindsight, Dean said, maybe his choice would’ve been different if he had more adequate access to the social media postings, or he might’ve issued an alert to the campus community to share that there was no threat.
Dean said he received emails and calls from students with concern and curiosity as to why no alert was put out amidst increased police presence and said he “definitely understands why people felt that way.” If there was any serious threat, Dean said, UNH police were “already prepared” and everyone would’ve been notified immediately.
The Durham Police Department responded to a Facebook tip Sunday night that someone had seen a person who met the description of the individual in question, but the police department found the tip to be inconclusive.
There have been six mass shootings in the U.S. in 2021, including two this month – in Texas and Indianapolis respectively. Dean said that the two recent active shooting incidents in the U.S., in addition to word that the individual had friends at UNH, could have contributed to concern among the local community.
WMUR reported Tuesday that the missing individual was located safely in Maine by Fryeburg and Maine State Police, and UMaine police said later that he was not suspected of any crimes.
Photo courtesy of the University of New Hampshire.