College Responds to Safety Concern

March 20, 2018

Northern Maine Community College campus officials are grateful for a positive outcome after some tense hours during the late night and early morning hours of March 19 & 20.

According to Dr. William Egeler, NMCC Dean of Students, the Presque Isle Police Department notified campus officials of an incident that occurred adjacent to NMCC at the Sister Mary O’Donnell Homeless Shelter around 8:00 p.m. on March 19.

Police reports indicated that the suspect who had maced and stabbed a worker at the shelter was missing. This promptly put the NMCC campus on high alert and actions were taken to ensure the safety of the campus community.

“Once I was notified that the occurrence was happening in such close proximity to NMCC, I immediately called the on-duty security officer to lock all of the external campus doors,” said Peter Goheen, NMCC Security Coordinator. “In addition to other safety measures, we worked diligently with the Presque Isle Police to thoroughly inspect every campus location including cars, dumpsters, out buildings and throughout the industrial park.”

“The safety and security of our students and staff is an ever present concern for us at NM. The incident served as a potent reminder of the importance of safety, planning, and positive working relationships with area law enforcement agencies and first responders,” said Egeler.

Campus communications and information technology played an important role in the precautions that were taken. Through the campus emergency notification system, emails, website updates, and social media, college officials were able to alert the campus community to provide real-time updates as they became available from the Presque Isle PD.

Residential students were strongly advised to stay in their dorms, but to travel in pairs if they needed to leave, and notify campus security if they chose to do so.

“I was so impressed with the students. They were very attentive to our recommendations. They did not panic. They listened, and they followed directions,” said Jon Blanchard, Director of Residential Life.

Because the suspect had not been found, a decision was made in the early morning hours on March 20 to keep the campus closed as an additional safety measure, with plans for a daylight search.

Later reports indicated that the suspect was apprehended off campus around 9:00 a.m. and that the victim was released and doing well after being treated at TAMC for non life-threatening injuries.

“We are fortunate to live in an area where community organizations work so well together,” said NMCC President Timothy Crowley. “I am proud of the College and community response to this situation.”

In addition to being the Dean of Students, Dr. Egeler is also the NMCC Incident Commander for emergency management situations.

“I personally want to thank the Presque Isle Police Department, the numerous other law enforcement entities and campus security personnel for the proactive measures they took to help ensure the safety of our students and staff during the uncertain time before the suspect was apprehended,” said Egeler. “A special thank you to all staff and students for their cooperation.”

Normal college operations will resume on Wednesday, March 21, 2018.