Man arrested for placing fake explosive device on city Christmas tree

Man arrested for placing fake explosive device on city Christmas tree

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Police have charged a 36-year-old man for placing a fake explosive device under the city's Christmas tree.

Richard Todd Will, 36, was released on personal recognizance. He is charged with criminal threatening and disorderly conduct.

Visitors and residents told Boston 25 News they were concerned after hearing about the hoax.

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"I don’t feel like I should be worried about public places like the town Christmas tree, watching every move that people make, yeah, no," said Selena Hoover of Portsmouth.

"I can’t imagine somebody would do something so horrible, especially in a place like this," said Sophia Carapeta of Maine.

Police began investigating after a citizen alerted a police officer before the start of the holiday parade in Portsmouth's Market Square on Saturday. The citizen told police they had seen a man attach something to the downtown Christmas tree.

Police later determined that the item attached, which had resembled an explosive device, was a hoax.

Remaining vigilant in large crowds is now just second nature, some said.

"I think with so many current events, you before would never have to think twice, but now you have to kind of be more on guard," Carapeta said.

Carapeta said "you tend to get a little more fearful, especially around the holidays with big crowds. You just never know what to expect."

Will was scheduled to be arraigned on Jan. 14 in the 10th Circuit Portsmouth Court.