Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Here’s what’s new.
What we’re talking about
The Norwegian tourist whose threats to kill Portland police officers shut down the city last Wednesday, was obsessed with American law enforcement and wanted to be arrested, an FBI agent testified during a hearing in federal court today.
Espen Brungodt, who was visiting from Berg, Norway, with his father and sister last week, told investigators that he sent the threatening email because he has Asperger’s Syndrome, which drove his fixation with getting arrested in the United States, FBI Agent Patrick Clancy said in court testimony.
Magistrate Judge John Rich III denied Brungodt bail out of concern that he might send other threats or not return for trial if allowed to travel to Norway. He is charged with sending threatening interstate communications.
“With a series of emails and electronic communications the defendant created substantial danger in Portland,” said the judge.
While Brungodt, 28, sat nearly motionless in the Portland courtroom on Tuesday afternoon, Clancy said that the Norwegian had sought to maximize the impact of his threats by referencing the same assault rifle used in the June shooting at the Orlando Pulse nightclub that left 49 people dead. Brungodt also said that, had he known Donald Trump was coming to town Thursday, he would have waited a day to send the email, according to Clancy.
Brungodt was unarmed at the time of his arrest, and Clancy said that “he claimed he did not intend to carry it [the threat] out.”
Brungodt’s father, Arvid Anderson, was shocked by the allegations, and said in court testimony that his son had being diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder around the age of 2, had always shied away from conflict, and had never before gotten into any sort of legal trouble.
“He’s not a violent man. If there’s conflict he pulls away,” Anderson said of his son. “This was a complete shock.” — Jake Bleiberg
The city is installing gender neutral bathroom signs in schools — Colin Ellis of the Forecaster reports: “Jeanne Crocker, assistant superintendent for school management, said about 20 signs with the word restroom’ written on them will go up throughout the district, and include depictions of what’s inside, specifically a sink, toilet and urinal. The word restroom will also be written in Braille.
“Unlike existing bathroom signs in the schools, the new signs will not depict a gender restriction.
“‘The city feels they will be able to begin to place this signage beside restrooms, starting with high schools, then the middle schools,’ Crocker said. ‘It’s a small first step.’”
Here’s what you had to say about the conditions of Portland elementary schools — We pulled together some of your best comments on Jake’s post and photos showing the conditions of Presumpscot and Lyseth elementary schools.
Portland’s iconic graffiti wall reduced to rubble — The Asylum’s graffiti wall is officially gone.
Meanwhile, four finalists gave their pitches for the Congress Square art project — Dennis Hoey of the The Press Herald reported on the out-of-state artists competing to beautify the space in the heart of downtown Portland. Hoey writes: “The winning artist will receive $75,000 to create a conceptual design in collaboration with a landscape architectural firm, Philadephia-based WRT, which will also be paid $75,000.”
Have you seen this bear? — “Bear-bear was lost sometime around Thursday August 4th. His last known whereabouts was on a stroll through the West End of Portland with his human toddler companion.”
The Big Idea
What to make of Susan Collins’ stand against Donald Trump — The Maine senator’s op-Ed in the Washington Post last night begat a slew of opinions from pundits and politicians. Mike Shepherd lays them out here, and points out that Collins’ statement made no mention of Trump’s widely criticized insinuation that Maine’s Somalis are dangerous.
State Rep. Diane Russell and actress Anna Kendrick.
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