BREWER, Maine — Police responded in force to the area around the high school just before noon to search for a man with a “long gun,” and the school was locked down as a precaution.

It turns out the “long gun” was bunches of birch a 31-year-old Ellsworth man was collecting along Dirigo Drive to sell as decorations.

“Somebody said somebody had a gun and we had to take it seriously,” Superintendent Daniel Lee said. “As soon as it was clear that no one had a gun, we unlocked the school. The children were not in danger at any time.”

The man, who asked not to be identified, said police converged on him with their guns drawn.

“It was a little bit crazy,” he said a few minutes after police left, still visibly shaken by the incident. “They searched me and checked my record” before letting him continue with his work. “I have a clean record.”

Sgt. Arden Jones, of the Brewer Police Department, said officers searched the entire area to make sure the man they stopped was the person in question, even following footsteps in the snow.

“There was no weapon whatsoever,” he said.

The initial 11:40 a.m. call described the man as wearing a sweat shirt and carrying “a gun, a long gun,” Jones said. “Come to find out it was a guy with a bundle of vines.”

The situation ended up being nothing, but for Lee it demonstrated how quickly police can respond to situations at the high school from the new public safety building, located basically next door on the other side of Interstate 395.

They responded in a matter of seconds, he said.

“The Brewer Police Department is very good,” Lee said. “They’re unbelievable. They take this stuff seriously. All available police officers responded.”

After police, including deputies from the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department, left, the man placed a call to his cousin who usually works with him collecting the birch.

“He thought it was funny,” he said. “I didn’t think it was funny. It was scary.”

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