LAWRENCE — A 17-year-old Methuen High School student was ordered held without bail in a detention center Friday on charges of threatening to commit a Columbine-style attack on his school and telling a fellow student he would kill her first if she told anyone about his plans.
Jacob Butze-Maille allegedly told the student, a 15-year-old girl, that he would buy an AK-47, “and shoot them all at the school,” Essex Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Gillespie said at Butze-Maille’s arraignment in Lawrence District Court.
“He goes on to tell her that if she tells anyone, she’ll be the first one that gets shot,” Gillespie said. “Detention is the most appropriate way to ensure the safety of the community.”
Judge Michael J. Brooks agreed that Butze-Maille posed a danger to the community and ordered him held for up to 90 days. He scheduled a probable cause hearing for Jan. 4.
“I find there are no conditions that would reasonably ensure the safety of the community,” Brooks said. “These are alarming and disturbing allegations, I think, compounded by the threat [to the witness].”
Butze-Maille faces charges of threatening to commit murder, intimidation of a witness, and willfully communicating a threat concerning a dangerous item.
The 15-year-old girl reported Butze-Maille’s threats to school officials Thursday, setting off an investigation by Methuen police that led to the boy’s arrest later that day, police said. School officials told investigators that Butze-Maille had previously been overheard discussing the 1999 Columbine massacre and made references to guns and violence, Gillespie said.
When asked by school officials, Butze-Maille reportedly told them that he had only talked about an AK-47 in relation to a tattoo he wanted to get, Gillespie told the court.
Defense attorney Jessica Thrall of Salem argued that her client, who has been working at a grocery store for the past month, had no prior criminal history and that it would be unfair to send him to the detention facility, in Middleton.
She also said that the St. Ann’s Home & School, a Methuen facility where Butze-Maille lives that treats emotional and behavioral issues, had offered to take him back under very strict conditions, including continuing the weekly therapy he already receives there.
But Brooks refused to set those conditions, telling Thrall that “fairness is not the standard I’m applying here.”
Alexi Wrenn, a Methuen High sophomore who shares some classes with Butze-Maille, said after school Friday that it was only within the past two or three weeks that Butze-Maille had dyed his blonde hair black.
The word from students is that Butze-Maille had been the victim of some bullying, Wrenn said, adding that school officials discussed the seriousness of bullying during morning announcements Friday.
“He doesn’t act out,” Wrenn said. “. . . I don’t think he would do something like that. I think it was just him getting mad.”
“If there’s bullying here,” Wrenn said, “it’s taken care of right away.”