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Maine resident who threatened shooting at Portsmouth High School is sentenced

Portsmouth High School
Dan Tuohy
Portsmouth High School, Portsmouth, NH.

The Maine resident who threatened a mass shooting at Portsmouth High School last April was sentenced to more than three years in prison after pleading guilty.

Kyle Hendrickson, 26, was arrested after recording a Snapchat video inside of a car in the school’s parking lot in which he displayed a gun. He wrote “imma shoot up the school” in the message.

Authorities found Hendrickson in Portland, Maine a day after he shared the message. At the time, they said he had a shotgun, AR-15 rifle, ammunition and camouflage body armor in his vehicle.

He initially told authorities the video was a joke and a family member was attending Portsmouth High School at that time.

“This was a bad joke,” Hendrickson’s attorney, Murdoch Walker, told the court during Tuesday's sentencing hearing in Concord, according to the Associated Press. “It certainly has severe repercussions.”

Walker said that Hendrickson had dropped his mother off at the school earlier that day for an errand and told a friend he was going to make an “awesome” video, in a joking manner, the AP reported.

U.S. District Judge Samantha Elliott noted during sentencing how “incredibly fearful” people nationwide are of school shootings.

“It’s not really a joke if everybody else is terrified,” said Elliott.

“His careless actions victimized our community, causing school to be canceled until we could assure our community that there was no longer a threat and the students could safely return to school,” Portsmouth Police Chief Mark Newport said following sentencing hearing. “Our community and department have zero tolerance for such actions.”

Hendrickson pleaded guilty in December to one count of interstate threatening and one count of possessing a firearm in a school zone. In addition to serving 37 months in prison, he will be on supervised release for three years. A restitution hearing is scheduled for August.

Todd started as a news correspondent with NHPR in 2009. He spent nearly a decade in the non-profit world, working with international development agencies and anti-poverty groups. He holds a master’s degree in public administration from Columbia University. He can be reached at tbookman@nhpr.org.