VINALHAVEN — The Knox County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate an incident involving out-of-staters who appear to have been targeted by some island residents over quarantine concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak.

The incident involves allegations that an armed group of residents cut down a tree to block access to a road to keep three people from leaving their home on Cripple Creek Road. The homeowner summoned help with a marine radio, and used a drone to monitor the group until law enforcement arrived.

In a statement released Saturday night, the sheriff’s office said those concerned about someone not following public heath recommendations during the coronavirus outbreak should notify authorities and not take matters into their own hands.

“We are concerned that some believe that anyone from out of the state is potentially infected and needs to be quarantined,” the statement said in part. “Whether someone is a Maine resident or not, they have the right to free movement and anyone who infringes upon that free movement is potentially violating the law.”

The sheriff’s office also said it wants “everyone to be safe and not overreact in this time of uncertainty as it could end poorly.”

The sheriff’s office reported that shortly after 3:30 p.m. Friday a resident of Cripple Creek Road was heading from his residence toward Round Island Road to check why his cable service was not working.

When he got to the end of his road, he found a tree blocking it. While investigating the downed tree, a neighbor started yelling at him and a group of people showed up and began to gather around. Believing the group may be there to harm him, he fled to his residence and told his roommates what he had found.

The trio decided to stay at the residence and used a VHF radio to hail the Coast Guard for assistance. They used the radio because they had no other means of communication. They also used a drone to keep an eye on the group until law enforcement could arrive to help them.

Several law enforcement officers arrived in the area and found the felled tree but no group of people. Police said it was apparent that the tree had been cut down and dragged into the road to block it.

Deputies investigated and learned there was a general belief by some island residents that the Cripple Creek residents were supposed to be quarantined because they came here from another state and could have COVID-19.

Deputies learned that the trio had been residing on Vinalhaven for about 30 days, which is outside of the guidance issued by state officials, and none have any symptoms consistent with the coronavirus.

Gov. Janet Mills has advised people from out of state that it made no sense to come to Maine to avoid COVID-19 because it was already here.


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