NNSL Photo/Graphic

Canadian North

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Bomb scare at school
St. Patrick, Weledeh evacuated after threat called in

Cody Punter
Northern News Services
Published Monday, January 19, 2015

It was a frantic morning for parents and students at St. Patrick High School and Weledeh Catholic School, which had to be evacuated after the schools received a bomb threat Friday morning.

The call came just before 11 a.m., according to an RCMP news release.

By 11:45 a.m., RCMP officers, some carrying assault rifles, had blocked off access to the school. Officers re-directed traffic on the schools' surrounding streets, and turned away pedestrians who were attempting to access the building.

Several parents who rushed to the scene seemed panicked after receiving an e-mail from the schools asking them to come pick up their children immediately, without providing any further details.

"I didn't know what was going on so I just started my truck and came here right away," said Joe Wetrade, who picked up his son and several of his son's friends on the other side of a police blockade.

Several St. Pat's students told News/North that they did not know why the schools were being evacuated at first. They said the vice-principal came on the PA system and announced the school was on lockdown and the students were to leave immediately after hearing the lunch bell.

"(He) said this isn't a drill and to stay quiet in our rooms, and we are dismissed from school at the St. Pat's lunch bell, and we are to leave school immediately," said one female Grade 11 student, who asked not to be named.

It wasn't until going over to Weledeh to make sure her nephew was OK, that she found out there had been a bomb threat.

"It was very, very scary and I broke down and cried," she said, huddled inside a bus shelter across from Sir John Franklin High School with a group of friends.

"It was kind of weird overlooking everything just knowing that there's your friends (and family) inside," added Grade 10 student Damian Benoit, who was turned away from the school by police after he showed up late for class.

"I was just kind of frantic," he said. "I didn't know where to go."

While the high school students were dismissed, primary school students at Weledeh were escorted to Sir John Franklin High School with the help of teachers and police.

"I got a phone call from the superintendent, Claudia Parker, who notified me that they were under lockdown, and required secondary lockdown which means that they have to evacuate the school. And our school is their secondary evacuation location," said Sir John Franklin principal Ed Lippert, standing outside the school's gymnasium, which was full of teachers, students and parents.

Despite having to cancel gym class to free up the gym, Lippert said the evacuation went smoothly

"The children are all inside safe here and everything is fine," he said.

Police were still sweeping St. Pat's for explosives as of 4 p.m. on Friday, according to RCMP Const. Elenore Sturko.

After determining there was no bomb in either school, Sturko said RCMP is treating the incident as suspicious and is looking for a suspect. No more information was available by press time.

This is the second time police have had to respond to a hoax in less than two weeks. Last Wednesday, Javaroma was evacuated after a false report of a gunshot.

After being released from school for the day, Benoit said the timing of the threat couldn't have come at a worse time because his exams are set to begin on Monday morning.

"That's the first day of exams," he said. "I have a lot of stuff that I need to hand in and I need to get my notes."

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.