Online posts that link the hold and secure at EMCS on Thursday with alleged threats against the high school and the possession of weapons are frustrating the RCMP as they investigate the incident.
“This investigation, as with most police investigations, needs to be based on facts and first-hand information. Social media can be a great tool, but investigators are finding that rumours, speculation and hearsay are unnecessarily hampering the investigation,” Cpl. Chris Manseau said in a media release.
“We need people who have first-hand information to come forward, and speak with officers. I urge anyone with first-hand information to come forward to the Sooke RCMP detachment and speak with an officer to ensure the actual facts are known.”
He said talk of weapons and threats do nothing but stoke fear in the public.
The suspect arrested in the Nov. 7 incident, where Edward Milne Community School was placed in a hold and secure status for several hours, has been released from police custody.
So far, no charges have been laid.
The incident was prompted by social media posts that had come to the attention of the Sooke School District and the RCMP. At about 11:30 a.m. the information was enough to prompt the school to initiate the hold and secure status.
“Hold and secure is a bit different from a full lockdown as it involves the perimeter doors being locked and no one being allowed to enter or exit the school. In a lockdown, the additional precaution of locking classroom doors would have been put into place,” Stephanie Sherlock, school district spokesperson, said.
In a message to parents, Sherlock said while a full lockdown was not in place, the students were kept in their classrooms while the RCMP assessed the situation.
The school district statement emphasized that they have full confidence in the RCMP’s advice regarding the safety of the students.
“Having said that, we understand that some families may be feeling a range of emotions connected to the experience. We have made extra counsellors available in the school and are communicating that personally to each classroom. In addition, the community has a resource centre that you can access if needed,” said the statement.
Some questions have also surfaced regarding the fact that while EMCS experienced a hold and secure event, students at Saseenos Elementary continued with normal activities.
“During yesterday’s hold and secure at EMCS, it was determined by police that the potential threat was specific to EMCS. If at any time, the RCMP had indicated we should place Saseenos Elementary under a hold and secure, we absolutely would have. In these instances, we take our direction from police,” Sherlock said.
Hold and secure practice drills have become a normal part of the school year, and Sherlock said that drills were held earlier this year to prepare students for this type of situation.