It's a bizarre case. A middle school teacher writes a couple not so great novels and self publishes them under a pen name, K. Voltaer. This teacher was arrested and sent for a mental health exam and still hasn't been heard from. Scary stuff. Something to stoke the fears of the community. Something to scare the crap out of anyone who writes and publishes anything for the world to see. Something about the lack of detail in this story got me to go on a hunt for more information and it doesn't add up.
Members of the Dorchester Sheriff’s Office, the Cambridge Police Department and the Dorchester County Public School board have removed Mace’s Lane Middle School teacher Patrick McLaw for allegedly penning two books under the alias, “Dr. K.S. Voltaer.” One of the books, “The Insurrectionist,” depicts “the largest school massacre” in history, WBOC-TV reports. A second book from 2013, Lilith’s Heir, is also available on Amazon and is described as a sequel penned by “K Voltaer.”The novel, The Insurrectionist, is about a big bomb and the second novel is a sequel about the aftereffects of the bomb psychologically. Did Patrick McLaw have bomb making chemicals at his school.... in his home? That's not fair. Just about all of us can get the chemicals, hardware and devices necessary to make an IED without leaving our homes. (No, I'm not going to link you to how to make an IED.)
“The information we received caused us to return to Dorchester County and immediately take the following steps,” Phillips said, according to My Eastern Shore MD. “A K-9 sweep was conducted at the Mace’s Lane School looking for explosive devices and other weapons. A secondary search was performed by police and school officials looking for suspicious packages or other items. Both of these searches were negative.”emphasis added
“The residence of the teacher in Wicomico County was searched by personnel,” Phillips said, with no weapons found, reports WBOC.”A further check of Maryland State Police databases also proved to be negative as to any weapons registered to him.Nope, no bombs, suspicious packages, guns or ammo found at his school or home. Nothing concrete, so, to follow the logic of the sheriff, Mr. McLaw must be crazy and he's sent for an emergency mental health evaluation. I can just imagine how PO'd and scared this man is. Then we get mystery, "the sheriff declined to disclose the current whereabouts of McLaw".
A more careful review of McLaw's situation reveals a written, symbolic "threat", that was published THREE (3) YEARS AGO! for Pete's Sake!
Patrick McLaw is 23 years old. He's a middle school teacher. He wrote these books in college and published them in his sophomore year in college. The local sheriff may be thinking is that 3 years lend credence to the "planned" part of the school shooter profile. If that was the case, then a simple sit down with Mr. McLaw should have cleared this up. Except, Mr. McLaw may have asked a couple logical, but challenging questions of the officers and he got tossed into a lock down, mental health ward for his troubles.
The concern is that Patrick McLaw "uses an alias" justified this investigation is more than frightening. It doesn't fit what we know about school shooter/bombers. 24% of school shooters want attention not anonymity. I can't find McLaw's pen name on Instagram, twitter or Facebook. I can find McLaw under his own name on Linked In. The newsers on this case seem to be a bit lazy. They're relieved that there is no threat to their local schools, but blithely disregard the violation of Patrick McLaw's civil rights and they don't seem to give a hoot about his whereabouts or well being. No one in McLaw's hometown is concerned that the local sheriff's department may be overreaching and demanding accountability. No one's tracked down Mr. McLaw's friends or family (and I admit, they aren't jumping out of the internet to defend him) but, surely someone knows Patrick McLaw and can add some perspective to what's happening to him.
The story, as told by the Cambridge, Maryland PD has holes in it. Big holes. We have no acknowledgement of McLaw's First, Second, Fourth and Eighth Amendment rights (free speech, gun rights, reasonable search, cruel punishment). No acknowledgment that the sheriff is running amok. We have a vague (bogus) "threat" from a guy, who, by the looks of his resume, McLaw was well liked enough to get a promotion in the Delmar School System and passed screening to become a teacher in the Dorchester School System. We don't have any guns or bombs. No one coming forward saying "yeah, this guy needs to be investigated", - nothing. We don't know if the sheriff got the idea that Patrick McLaw had the "intent, means and motivation" to carry out a fictional "threat" he wrote about over 3 years ago about a school 888 years into the future from a nosy Parker, jealous co-worker, jilted lover or a legitimate witness. We have no reason to doubt Patrick McLaw's sanity or need for Patrick McLaw to prove he's of sound mind. Adding to this is that no one is reporting where Mr. McLaw can be found. Talk about a 1984esque scenario of the government "disappearing" some one. I bet Mr. McLaw will have a great outline for his next novel, should he find the courage to write it.
Levels of Risk
Low Level of Threat : A threat which poses a minimal risk to the victim and public safety.
1. Threat is vague and indirect.
2. Information contained within the threat is inconsistent, implausible or lacks detail.
3. Threat lacks realism.
4. Content of the threat suggests person is unlikely to carry it out.
Medium Level of Threat : A threat which could be carried out, although it may not appear entirely realistic.
1. Threat is more direct and more concrete than a low level threat.
2. Wording in the threat suggests that the threatener has given some thought to how the act will be carried out.
3. There may be a general indication of a possible place and time (though these signs still fall well short of a detailed plan).
4. There is no strong indication that the threatener has taken preparatory steps, although there may be some veiled reference or ambiguous or inconclusive evidence pointing to that possibility -- an allusion to a book or movie that shows the planning of a violent act, or a vague, general statement about the availability of weapons.
5. There may be a specific statement seeking to convey that the threat is not empty: "I'm serious!" or "I really mean this!"
High Level of Threat : A threat that appears to pose an imminent and serious danger to the safety of others.
1. Threat is direct, specific and plausible.
2. Threat suggests concrete steps have been taken toward carrying it out, for example, statements indicating that the threatener has acquired or practiced with a weapon or has had the victim under surveillance.
"At eight o'clock tomorrow morning, I intend to shoot the principal. That's when he is in the office by himself. I have a 9mm. Believe me, I know what I am doing. I am sick and tired of the way he runs this school."
This threat is direct, specific as to the victim, motivation, weapon, place, and time, and indicates that the threatener knows his target's schedule and has made preparations to act on the threat.
NCAVC's experience in analyzing a wide range of threatening communications suggests that in general, the more direct and detailed a threat is, the more serious the risk of
its being acted on. A threat that is assessed as high level will almost always require immediate law enforcement intervention.
Overall, the level of violence in American schools is falling, not rising. But the shock and
fear generated by the recent succession of school shootings and other violent acts in schools --and by violence in society at large -- have led to intense public concern about the danger of school violence. In this atmosphere, it is critically important for schools to respond to all threats swiftly, responsibly, fairly, and sensitively, and with an understanding that all threats are not equal.
It is not enough to react only to the threatening message, whether spoken, written, or symbolic. It is also vital to assess whether the person who made the threat has the intent, means, and motivation to carry it out. The procedure presented in this monograph can help schools assess a threat and the threatener, evaluate the risk, and respond appropriately and effectively.
What's publicly known about Patrick McLaw (once you sort it out) isn't scary.
Then I looked closer at a picture of Patrick McLaw and it came into focus.
Tue Sep 02, 2014 at 11:43 AM PT: The LATimes has an update on Patrick McLaw that says he has a lawyer and that it is a 4 page letter sent that caused these events to occur. I have no idea if race is a factor, the article specifies the books are not a factor. So, the question remains, why did the journalists write about the books? I'm going to continue to follow this story.