Gorham police set up roadblocks and locked down two local schools after receiving a report Monday morning of a man who was dressed in camouflage clothing and armed with a rifle.

In a news release Monday evening, police said they searched for a man dressed in a ghillie suit but were unable to locate him.

The sighting, which was reported at 10:08 a.m. on South Street, caused concerns because the location of the armed man was in close proximity to the Gorham Municipal Center, Gorham High School and Gorham Village Elementary School.

“As a precaution, the schools were locked down until the area could be secured and throughly cleared,” police said.

A ghillie suit is a type of camouflage clothing designed to resemble the background environment. It is typically a net or cloth garment covered in loose strips of burlap, cloth or twine and sometimes made to look like leaves and twigs. Snipers, hunters and nature photographers often wear ghillie suits to blend into their environment.

Gorham police enlisted help from several other departments in their search for the armed man. Officers from Windham, Westbrook, Scarborough, Portland and the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office responded. The officers searched homes in the area but found nothing.

“The Gorham Police Department continues to investigate, but at this point in time do not believe that a threat to the public exists,” the department said.

Gorham police set up roadblocks that led to the closure of South Street.

James Rathbun, director of Baxter Memorial Library on South Street, said police told library officials to lock the doors around 11 a.m., but then said they could lift the lockdown around noon.

He said it was a “soft lockdown,” meaning they were asked to lock the doors but could allow patrons to leave and admit people if they recognized them.

Rathbun said police did not explain what the incident was, but there was “a lot of police activity” in the area, with police seeming to be searching for someone.

In an email to parents, school officials said they, too, had adopted a “soft lockdown” at the high school and at Village Elementary, meaning that exterior doors were locked and students were kept inside but classes continued late Monday morning.

The University of Southern Maine, which has a large campus in Gorham, sent a text message to students, faculty and staff to avoid the area around South Street, which is a few blocks from the campus, said Bob Stein, a USM spokesman.

Stein said that he heard an unconfirmed report about someone with a gun. He said USM officials didn’t believe there was a danger to anyone on the campus from the incident, so they did not institute a lockdown.

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]

Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]

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