LAWRENCE — A judge yesterday ordered the 18-year-old Methuen High School student accused of making a terroristic threat on his Facebook page held without bail for up to 90 days, calling him a threat to the community.
Cameron D’Ambrosio was in Lawrence District Court yesterday in a suit, tie and shackles for a hearing to determine whether and how he could be released from custody after being arrested May 1. He was charged with making a terroristic threat during which he referred to the Boston Marathon bombing in which three people were killed and more than 200 maimed and injured.
He had been held at the Middleton Jail since his arrest pending yesterday’s dangerousness hearing.
“I believe the behavior here has been escalating,” Judge Lynn Rooney said after reviewing a half dozen records of police and probation reports prosecutors submitted at the hearing. “And it’s very troubling.”
The reports included D’Ambrosio’s arrest in June after a fight over $20 with his older sister, who called police after locking herself in her room. During the argument, D’Ambrosio pushed her and, after she locked herself in her bedroom, threatened to stab her, according to the arrest report from June 21.
Police said D’Ambrosio admitted he said that, but said he was just upset. The case was continued on Oct. 17, and dismissed on April 17, exactly two weeks before he was arrested for the Facebook post.
Rooney said she also was troubled by a police report from November 2011, which said D’Ambrosio threatened to shoot two eighth-grade students. Police said he admitted to making that statement, but was only kidding.
Geoffrey DuBosque, the defense attorney assigned to D’Ambrosio, said D’Ambrosio denied making that statement during a lengthy interview with DuBosque after his arrest.
DuBosque declined to comment after the hearing yesterday.
According to the records, police also responded to a fight in April 2006 between D’Ambrosio and a boy from his street, during which the boy’s mother said D’Ambrosio bit her son on the arm.
DuBosque argued in court that D’Ambrosio was not a danger because he was not threatening specific violence, and police found no explosives, weapons or other writing about violence when they searched his home. The post started out as lyrics, he said.
“It was an absolute terrible choice of words,” he said. D’Ambrosio referred to himself as a rapper on Facebook, and has posted videos of himself rapping on YouTube.
Because D’Ambrosio did not threaten to use a weapon in a specific place or against a specific person, the post did not meet the state statute’s requirements, DuBosque said.
“When searched, the police didn’t find anything indicative of doing anything but writing bad rap lyrics,” he said.
But Rooney disagreed based on the police reports of past behavior that prosecutors submitted and declared he was a threat to the community.
Patrolman James Mellor, the Methuen police officer assigned to Methuen High School, said he knew D’Ambrosio before this incident because another student had beaten him severely enough to put him in the hospital with a ruptured spleen in September.
That student, who was not identified in court, was prosecuted, Mellor said.
Mellor said he found D’Ambrosio on Pleasant Street at about 1:30 p.m. May 1, about an hour after associate principal James Weymouth showed him the Facebook post. Dozens of students brought the post to Weymouth’s attention that day.
He was polite and cooperative during and after his arrest, Mellor said.
D’Ambrosio, a senior who was on track to graduate next month, will be suspended, Mellor said, and will have an exclusionary hearing that could result a decision to expel him from school. Methuen Superintendent Judith Scannell, who could not comment on D’Ambrosio’s case in particular, said students or parents have the right to appeal decisions made at exclusionary hearings.
On May 1, D’Ambrosio posted an expletive-laced statement on his Facebook page saying he would outdo the Boston Marathon bombing, and several students approached Weymouth and other high school administrators to express alarm, school and police officials have said.
Police seized a computer and an XBox video game console during the search of D’Ambrosio’s home on May 1, and sent them to the State Police for analysis.
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