Police investigate separate threat toward Brainerd school

Police and school officials do not believe there is any direct threat to students or staff.

Riverside School Sign.JPG
Riverside School Sign from March 28, 2020. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

A 37-year-old man was arrested for felony terroristic threats Thursday, Feb. 11, in Brainerd after police received a report of an alleged threat mentioning Riverside Elementary School.

The alleged threat came Wednesday evening, Feb. 10, according to a news release from acting Brainerd Police Chief Mike Bestul. Police arrested the man at a residence in Brainerd for the threat, along with violation of conditions of release from a previous criminal charge. He was held in Crow Wing County Jail pending formal charges, according to the news release.

Brainerd Public Schools Superintendent Laine Larson sent a letter to families Thursday, assuring the community there was no direct threat to students or staff at Riverside or any other school in the district.

“The district takes all alleged threats to the safety of our students, staff, and district very seriously and will continue to communicate as needed with you,” Larson wrote in her letter.

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to contact the Brainerd Police Department at 218-829-2805.


Parent concerns

Melissa Parker, the parent of a kindergartner at Riverside, shared concerns in an email to the Dispatch Thursday about being notified if the suspect were to be released from custody.

Parker said Bestul told her that was not the police department’s policy.

“It is upsetting as the parent of a student to know that we would not be notified if someone who essentially threatened our children were to be released,” Parker wrote in the email. “I believe other parents would agree that a policy change should be put in place for the Brainerd Police Department to keep our children safe. If safety is truly of the utmost importance for our children, why isn’t the police department taking EVERY step necessary to keep our children safe?”

As the suspect’s release would already be public record, Parker questioned why hundreds of parents should have to keep tabs on the situation when one phone call could be made to the superintendent to relay to parents in seconds.

“Victims of crimes are often notified when their perpetrator is released,” Parker wrote. “Why do potential victims need to become full victims for them to be provided security?”

Larson said Thursday afternoon she does not know what the process for notification would be, though the district is working closely with police.

“They’ve assured us that as anything happens that they will keep us informed, and I just trust that they will do that,” she said of the police department.

Larson said she did not know the nature of the threat. Bestul did not return a voicemail requesting further comment Thursday.


Previous threats

The alleged threats come on the heels of an incident Feb. 2, when 29-year-old Nick Clements was arrested after charging a police officer in a squad car with a knife and allegedly telling hospital staff he was going to be the next school shooter.

Clements was released Feb. 4 on the conditions he would keep all future court hearings, take his prescribed medications properly, not enter any bars or liquor establishments, not possess any dangerous weapons and not use any alcohol or controlled substances.

Clements later said in a Facebook post he does not remember making the school shooting comment and does not nor ever has owned any guns.

Larson said in a letter to families Wednesday, Feb. 10, the district was working with Brainerd police, who assured the community the situation was thoroughly investigated and did not pose a threat to any Brainerd Public Schools students or staff.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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