Fort Nelson school district beefing up security after repeated shooting threats

Students and school officials in Fort Nelson are once again on alert after yet another threat of a school shooting this month.

The threat was found in graffiti at Fort Nelson Secondary School, referring to a school shooting on June 20 — the same day as final classroom exams.

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It's the second threat made at the school so far in 2018, and the third threat for the district this year. RCMP are also investigating a threat found at R.L. Angus School in May.

"The graffiti has been found to be a low-level form of threat, so although there is no need to have schools under a 'hold and secure' or keep students inside, we want to remain vigilant," Diana Samchuk, superintendent for School District 81, wrote in a June 6 letter to parents.

On Friday, Samchuck said the district will be implementing security measures for June 20 and allowing students to make alternative arrangements to write their exams. 

The RCMP will be patrolling the school and area on June 20, and attending students will be funnelled through the front doors only. The district will make accommodations for students to write their exams at the board office if they chose not to go to the school that day.

"Marks have to be in in time to get them on report cards and transcripts," Samchuck said.

"We were looking at that issue, so we have sent a message out to parents to let them know if they are keeping their student home on the 20th, they can come to the baord office to write their exam, they just need to notify the high school. Just to give them an alternate setting, less anxiety for some students."

Remaining vigilant

Fort Nelson Secondary was the target of a school shooting on Feb. 6, while R.L. Angus School was targeted May 7 and 8.

The threats have been considered low-level and not credible, but remaining vigilant is important, Samchuck said.

"We have a staff meeting each time we contact the RCMP. We all know that you have to take these things seriously.," Samchuk said.

"You have to go through the steps, you can't become complacent and just say, oh well, it's mischief. There's a strong likelihood it is, but each time we go through this, we learn something."

The Northern Rockies RCMP is actively investigating the threats, but couldn't divulge many details when contacted Friday. 

"We're working in partnership with the school district here and, really, that's all I can say at this time without compromising the investigation," Staff Sgt. Mike Eling said.

Police are investigating whether the threats have been made by an individual, or a group of people, Eling said.

"We don't want to be complacent about this," Eling said. "We take these sort of threats seriously, and we put a lot of resource in attempting to identify the source of the threat and whether there's any intent behind the threats."

The school district has completed a security review of its schools that will start to be implemented this summer, Samchuck said. That includes plans to increase video surveillance, upgrade door locks, and install extra windows in some classrooms and doorways to increase outside visibility.

The RCMP will also be speaking to classes at the high school.

"They spoke to the elementary (students) and we thought that it was really successful," Samchuck said.

"Kids feel more comfortable to ask questions and the teachers are there, too, so that they can guide the discussion, just so they realize that these kinds of incidents are serious and they take up a lot of valuable time from the RCMP."

School district board chair Linda Dolen could not be immediately reached for comment as she was travelling outside province. A request for comment has been made. 

Anyone with information about the threats can call the Northern Rockies RCMP at 250-774-2700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. Information can be reported anonymously.

Email Managing Editor Matt Preprost at editor@ahnfsj.ca.

© Copyright Alaska Highway News

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