AUGUSTA — Police did not find a bomb after five hours of searching all Augusta city schools, an effort that followed an emailed bomb threat received Friday morning.

All Augusta schools closed for the day, and police said the bomb threat may have come from someone other than a student.

Augusta police were working with state and national law enforcement, including the FBI, to “determine if the email threat made against our school system was connected to similar threats that were made to several other schools in other New England states this morning around the same time frame,” Jared Mills, the deputy police chief, said in a news release. He said information was provided by the state’s Information and Analysis Center, and he did not know which states or which schools reported threats Friday morning.

The Washington Post reported that schools in New Jersey and Virginia also received threats on Friday, but those were called in and caused evacuations and lockdowns.

The emailed threat to Augusta schools was received by an employee at Cony High School around 6 a.m.

Mills said the department often investigates threats written on paper or on a wall, but because of the way this threat was conveyed, he believes it might have come from someone other than a student.

“The email said generally that there was a bomb in the schools and throughout the school system in Augusta,” Mills said during a news conference at Cony High School. “We responded immediately and we were lucky there were only a few students (at Cony).”

Police dogs from Portland and Bangor were called in to search city schools.

“We will search (the other schools) as we get the resources, and once they are deemed safe, they will be reopened,” Mills said early Friday. Schools were closed for the day for “safety reasons,” Mills said, explaining that officials decided to cancel classes for the day because they had not started yet.

Last school year, there was a spate of bomb threats at Cony – June 2, 8, 9. In September, following another bomb threat, police issued a summons on a charge of terrorizing to a 15-year-old girl.

Mills said he doesn’t believe this threat is connected to any of the past school threats.

“This was an actual email that we have to authenticate, and we’re working with the Maine Computer Crimes Task Force to trace it back and confirm that it’s even a valid threat,” Mills said. “We aren’t taking anything for granted, and we’re taking all precautions to make sure every school today is searched and made safe.”

The police department and school department posted a message on their Facebook pages Friday morning. Both pages were flooded with comments from concerned parents and members of the community.

Later, more than 30 people posted messages on the Facebook page of the Augusta Police Department thanking the officers for their work.

One person commented that the closures because of bomb threats seem to be outpacing snow days.

Another woman said, “Thank you for keeping my children safe and keeping them home.”

Superintendent James Anastasio did not immediately return a request for comment.

Cony High School Principal Kimberly Silsby said all after-school activities were canceled Friday. However, she added that all weekend events will take place as scheduled. Those include rehearsals for the upcoming Chizzle Wizzle stage performances and a caucus of Augusta Democratic Party members set for 1 p.m. Sunday at Cony.

Jason Pafundi can be contacted at 621-5663 or at:

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