AUBURN — A children's librarian is recovering from a concussion after she was beaten up by a 19-year-old in the Children's Room in view of young kids.
After police escorted Kewane Pontoo of Lewiston out of the building just after noon Friday, they described him as having had "an apparent psychotic break." He was charged with three counts of assault.
Library Director Lynn Lockwood said Pontoo had been on the library's upper floor and acting agitated when that librarian asked him to calm down or leave.
"He said 'OK,' he left (the building,)" Lockwood said. "He, for some reason, went in the Children's Room (next) and got very agitated and loud and, boom. He became loud and profane and when he was told to stop he lashed out and got worse."
Pontoo struck children's librarian Laurie Pinkham.
In an email to the Sun Journal, Pinkham's husband, David, said his wife was punched in the head, arms and stomach and knocked down.
"He kicked her in the head and buttocks a few times and she curled into a ball until her cohorts took him down," David Pinkham wrote.
Pontoo was restrained by a patron and staff until police arrived, then taken to St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston.
Laurie Pinkham was taken to Central Maine Medical Center, treated and released. David Pinkham said she had rug-burn and a concussion.
"Laurie's biggest concern (was) that some poor little kid was traumatized," he said.
Lockwood said Monday that some families had already returned to the Children's Room and that she's talked to parents.
"They told us they are bringing their children back because they didn't want them to be afraid to go to a place they love," Lockwood said. "We have told them that that person will never be allowed to come back here."
Pontoo had been to the library before. Aside from acting differently, sometimes talking to himself, he had not caused any problems, she said.
Richard Trafton, president of the Auburn Public Library Board of Trustees, said the incident prompted the board to review security procedures and weigh whether any changes should be made.
"We're trying to review how other libraries in Maine and elsewhere screen entry into the children's room," he said.
It could mean having controls for single adults who go into the space, but he's reluctant to see too much done.
He and Lockwood both said that the incident was very random and not something they'd experienced before.
"We like to offer the library as a safe and welcoming place, not security-ridden," Trafton said. "We're very sad that Laurie was put in this position and injured, and we will work with her and her family the best we can to get her back on her feet and hopefully back to the Auburn Public Library."
This story was updated at 9:10 a.m.