Hammarskjold High School in Thunder Bay, Ont was the targeted school

Two students face multiple charges in threats against Ontario school

Officers believe the two teens were working entirely apart from one another

Two local students were behind a string of threats that promoted authorities to shut down a high school in northwest Ontario more than a dozen times, police alleged Thursday.

Det. Insp. Ryan Hughes of the Thunder Bay Police Service said an 18-year-old female student and a 14-year-old boy have been arrested in connection with the alleged incidents targeting Hammarskjold High School in Thunder Bay, Ont.

He said the pair face a total of 14 charges between them, although he said officers believe the two were working entirely apart from one another.

The multiple arrests, Hughes said, came as a surprise to local investigators.

“We just thought it was one person,” he said in a telephone interview. “But with the wording of some of the threats … we thought there may be a copycat with the other one, which proved true.”

Hughes said the woman, viewed as the primary suspect, is a current student at Hammarskjold, which he said first started receiving threats last October.

Only one was documented in 2018, but Hughes said the threats of violence at the school began in earnest on Feb. 13.

On that day, Hughes said the Crime Stoppers tip line received four threats sent in from a mobile device, establishing a pattern that would become familiar over the next two months.

He said a total of 31 threats sent on 15 separate days poured into the anonymous tip system between Feb. 13 and April 17, prompting police investigations that shut the school down on 13 separate occasions.

Hughes said that all the threats zeroed in on Hammarskjold, with one other local Catholic school referenced on a single occasion. The threats all contained references either to explosives or planned shootings on school grounds, he said.

The use of the Crime Stoppers service presented particular challenges for police, since it is designed to act as an anonymous vehicle through which people can leave information about crimes, said Hughes. As such, he said, police cannot obtain information about tipsters without judicial authorization.

READ MORE: Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

The alleged exploitation of the service, he said, represents a particularly troubling element of the case.

“It is extremely frustrating for our officers,” he said. “We’ve reached out to other cities and other police services, and they’ve never encountered what we’ve encountered.”

Hughes said investigators identified the mobile devices sending some of the threats in the past two weeks, but needed time to link them to their owners.

The charges the two teens face, he said, pertain specifically to threats made in April. More charges are expected in the coming days.

The series of threats proved highly disruptive for Lakehead Public Schools, the board overseeing Hammarskjold.

The school was shut down while police searched the grounds to verify the threats, and school officials began posting assignments online in a bid to keep students from falling behind.

Spokesman Bruce Nugent said the turmoil caused by the threats prompted the board to tighten security and communication protocols, but took a heavy toll on the community.

“Students and staff at the school are physically and emotionally worn out,” he said. “We’re pleased and hopeful that this is the end.”

The 18-year-old woman from Shuniah, Ont., is facing three counts each of public mischief reporting offence and mischief interfering with lawful use of property. The boy from Thunder Bay faces four counts each of the same charges.

READ MORE: For U.S. school shooting survivors, trauma has no time limit

Both appeared in court on Thursday morning and have been released on bail or under supervisory conditions.

Michelle McQuigge, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Snowfall warning for Kootenay and Paulson passes

Up to 30 cm expected in mountain passes Saturday and Sunday.

Nelson Leafs hang on to edge Chase Heat 4-3

Nelson has won 14 of its last 15 games

Community Futures launches cannabis consultation program

The Cannabis Business Transition Initiative helps businesses move into the legal economy

Nelson receives over $400,000 in gaming grants

The annual funds are handed out to non-profit sports and arts organizations

Kootenay Patricks assemble to take on Montreal Canadiens alumni

The charity game takes place Jan. 23 in Nelson

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Dallas Smith, Terri Clark to perform on CP Holiday Train’s B.C. stops

Annual festive food bank fundraiser rolling across province from Dec. 11 to 17

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Most Read