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Threats at Howe Sound Secondary investigated

15-year-old student arrested

Police are investigating threats made at Howe Sound Secondary School in Squamish.

While the police and school officials won’t discuss the nature of the threat while their investigations continue, a local parent said a note claimed there would be shooting at the school.

RCMP Cpl. Dave Ritchie said police are taking the threats very seriously. They do not believe the threats, one identified on Friday and one on Monday, are related.

A 15-year-old female student has already been arrested in the case of the second threat.

“In all these cases a lot of rumours fly,” he said.

“We have treated the threats seriously.”

Investigations have determined that the threat identified Friday is at least two weeks old, said Ritchie.

“We are still investigating that and treating it seriously.”   Ritchie said the school has no particular problem with violence and is typical of most high schools in the province.

“There are no more problems there than at any other high school,” he said.

However, there has been extra police presence at the school.

“There is a fine line between alarming people and ensuring safety but we have had lots of on-going discussions with school staff and school board officials on this,” said Ritchie.

After assessing the threat with RCMP over the weekend Howe Sound Principal Nancy Campbell said it was decided to open the school on Monday. Students were told very generally of the threat and a note was sent home to families.

“As far as I am concerned our school is safe,” said Campbell, who has been at the helm for three years.

“We have always felt it was safe and that is why we continue to have school open. We will continue to be vigilant, we will continue to investigate the first threat that we found because our primary responsibility is the safety of our students and our staff, but our second responsibility is to make sure school is in session if we deem it is safe to do so.”

With an arrest made in the case of the second threat Campbell is hoping parents will be reassured.

“I am hoping that parents will be relieved and students will be relieved and this will be the end of it,” she said.

Cathy Jewett, chair of the District Parents Advisory Councils, did receive notification of the incidents from the school board.

She said one of her main concerns now was to make sure that officials continue to take any other threats seriously.

“This is a cry wolf kind of thing,” she said.

“So it is really dangerous to have people playing this game because if something real happens people may not step up to the plate. I think it is good that they handled it seriously and they have to continue to treat every threat that way.”

RCMP are asking students and parents of students in Squamish to come forward if they have any information, by either contacting the Squamish RCMP at 604-892-6100 or reporting anonymously to CRIMESTOPPERS at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).