A Norwegian man who sent emails and posted tweets threatening to kill Portland police officers last summer has been sentenced to 15 months in prison.
Espen Brungodt, 29, was sentenced Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge D. Brock Hornby for making threatening interstate communications. He pleaded guilty on Sept. 26.
Police went on high alert after the threats on Aug. 3 because they came after the slayings of police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Dallas. Those, in turn, had followed fatal police shootings of black men in Minnesota and Louisiana.
The threats led to the evacuation of the Cumberland County Courthouse because of its proximity to the police headquarters in Portland, along with a parking garage on Newbury Street, both of which were mentioned in the threats.
Brungodt allegedly “yearned” to be arrested and an affadavit filed after he was taken into custody indicated that he was satisfied with the effect of his threats. An FBI agent testified that Brungodt told him he had a mental disorder that caused him to become obsessed with the idea of being arrested in the U.S.
His emails said: “Time for more police to die. We are getting our Sig Sauer MCX .223-caliber rifles ready, and very soon, my partners will head down to Portland Police Department on 109 Middle St. There they will shoot and kill as many police officers as they can. Meanwhile, I will get into position at the top of Cumberland County Parking Garage on 188 Newbury St. I have booby trapped the garage with explosives, so don’t go there. Time to take action. More dead cops.”
Police searched the garage with bomb-sniffing dogs and found no explosives.
The emails were traced to Brungodt’s Portland hotel room, where he was arrested a few hours after sending the threats. He had been in the U.S. with his family on a nine-day vacation from their home in Bergen, Norway, and had been scheduled to leave the day after he sent the threats.
After Brungodt’s arrest, friends and acquaintances said the incident shocked them because Brungodt had never previously expressed any antipathy toward law enforcement and had no interest in violence or weapons.
Hornby, who sentenced Brungodt, said the email contained a “brutal threat of violence and death that resulted in complete disruption of public services and instilled public fear.”
But Hornby noted that Brungodt had a history of mental health problems and no criminal record, factors that argued for a lesser sentence than the five years and fine of $250,000 that he could have imposed.
As part of a plea agreement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed that it will support a request by Brungodt to transfer his sentence to Norway, allowed under a treaty between the U.S. and Norway known as the International Prisoner Transfer Program, which began in 1977.
The program is designed to relieve some hardships on offenders who are imprisoned far from home, and to facilitate their rehabilitation.
If he serves his sentence in the U.S., Brungodt will be removed from the country after his jail term is completed and barred from re-entering in the future.