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Hanover Man Charged With Threatening

David Barr

David Barr

Hanover — A 29-year-old Etna man has pleaded not guilty to threatening Hanover police officers and their children through a Facebook post.

David H. Barr was arrested Wednesday after police were notified of a Facebook post that announced, “Hey Hanover police, if you’re still hacking my account. Your (sic) a bunch of ... marks. Watch your back. And make sure you say good bye to your kids when you drop them off at school.”

Police were notified of the post on Wednesday from a “concerned citizen” and Barr was arrested at the Dartmouth College mail room, where he works. Police officers were also sent to Hanover schools as a precaution.

During the investigation, Barr was interviewed and told police he was not contemplating doing bodily harm to the children, but it was his intent to kidnap officers’ children and hold them ransom, Prosecutor Christopher O’Connor said during Barr’s arraignment Thursday in the 2nd Circuit Court in Lebanon.

Barr’s bail was set at $30,000, and as of Thursday evening, he was still at the Grafton County jail. Criminal threatening, a misdemeanor, carries a maximum sentence of one year in prison, two years of supervised probation and a $2,000 fine.

Barr was convicted of a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence on Monday, and O’Connor said after Thursday’s arraignment that police believe the Facebook threat stems from Barr’s DWI arrest. However, Hanover Capt. Frank Moran added in an interview Thursday that he thinks Barr’s DWI arrest was one of numerous contributing factors.

Barr, a Hanover High School alumnus, also pleaded no contest to a DUI and gross negligent operation in 2004 in Windsor Superior Court.

The call about the threatening message came in around 10:50 a.m. Wednesday from a resident who had seen the post, and Barr was arrested around 12:40 p.m. at the Hinman Mail Center on Dartmouth’s campus, where Barr was working, Moran said.

When police were made aware of the threat, officers were stationed in front of the Ray School, Richmond Middle School and Hanover High School, Moran said. Moran described the officers’ presence as preventative and said the officers didn’t wear any tactical gear or brandish their weapons.

“If someone had just threatened the officers, (the person) might not have gotten an arrest warrant,” Moran said. “But with family members and any connection to schools and violent acts, you’ve just jumped to priority status.”

Barr was held overnight at the Grafton County jail on $30,000 cash bail. During his Thursday arraignment, O’Connor argued to the judge that Barr should remain held on $30,000 bail. While Barr was not considered a flight risk, O’Connor said he had concerns for the safety and welfare of the public. O’Connor added that Barr made it “perfectly clear” that he has hostility toward Hanover police from when he was arrested in 2013 for a DWI.

Barr’s attorney, George Ostler, argued that he should only be held on $3,000 bail because he said his client likely would show up for future court appearances.

“$30,000 bail for a Class A misdemeanor is pretty unheard of around here,” Ostler said.

Ultimately, the judge ordered Barr to be held on $30,000 cash or corporate surety, which means Barr could use a bail bondsmen and only pay a portion of the amount to be released, but provide the bondsmen some sort of security like a lien on a house.

With the widespread popularity of social media websites, Moran said his department receives more complaints, especially from students, about threatening messages posted online. Hanover police often receive complaints about posts on Bored at Baker, an online forum used by Dartmouth College students. In one case, Moran said, someone posted a bomb threat on the site close to graduation, and the FBI became involved.

Often, the posts that generate complaints don’t rise to the level of a crime. Moran said officers consider the individual’s circumstances in each case, including the context of the post and the poster’s perceived propensity for violence.

“An overreaction is not desirable, but to under react is tragic,” Moran said.

Even when officers determine a post is not criminal, Moran said officers still investigate and request to interview the individual who made the threat.

In the case of Barr’s Facebook page, Moran said officers would have taken the threat just as seriously if it hadn’t been aimed at police officers.

“It wouldn’t have changed the fact that we would have reacted as a high priority,” Moran said.

Barr’s trial date is scheduled for April 8.

Sarah Brubeck can be reached at sbrubeck@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.