November 6, 2017 5:39 pm
Updated: November 7, 2017 9:28 am

Threat from Selkirk student spooks parents in school division

A threat made on Snapchat by a high school student Sunday night set off a flurry of concern for parents across two school divisions. Global's Timm Bruch reports.

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A threat made by a high school student Sunday night on popular social media app Snapchat had parents across two school divisions worried for their children’s safety.

RCMP arrested a 16-year old boy from St. Andrews after threats were made towards Lord Selkirk Regional Comprehensive Secondary School, but the ripple effect stretched far beyond the community.

READ MORE: 16-year-old arrested in connection to Selkirk high school threat

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Thanks to thousands of social media shares and a vague message sent out by the Lord Selkirk School Division, many parents were scrambling Sunday night and Monday morning, long after the teen was taken into custody.

“Was it a mass threat to a lot of people? Was it particular threat to particular people? Was it one school? Was it all schools? I didn’t know,” Leanne Shuttleworth, who has three children attending school in the division said. “It was vague.”

Shuttleworth, along with hundreds of other parents, received this message over the phone just after 7:30 p.m. Sunday from the school division:

The Division has been made aware of a potential threat raised on social media this afternoon. RCMP have been notified and are involved this evening in dealing with the situation. 

The message — which many parents called unclear — sparked concern throughout Selkirk. One parent online commented that it was “too bad there wasn’t a specific school mentioned because now parents do not know what to do.”

The superintendent of the Lord Selkirk School Division said on Monday that the message was left vague on purpose.

“I’m sure it caused some anxiety in people but I still felt it was important to give the information,” Michele Polinuk said. “Details have to remain vague, particularly when the RCMP are undergoing an investigation, and the suspect had not been caught yet.”

“In this day and age, safety is always the bottom line.”

Shuttleworth said she went online after receiving the call to try and find more information.

“We wanted to get information on to what the threat was so we could make a better judgement of what to do,” Shuttleworth said. “I think it’s important that things are shared but I also take it with a grain of salt.”

READ MORE: Northern Saskatchewan school placed on lockdown after threats made

That grain of salt meant a lot of details, some true and others not, were posted online Sunday night. The suspect’s name, photo, and background were all shared, along with messages threatening schools in Winnipeg’s River East area.

The sharing got so bad that one thread said it had no choice but to turn commenting off.

Winnipeg police said Monday that the situation was amplified by social media, even long after the suspect was arrested.

“Social media exacerbated the level of the threat,” Cst. Rob Carver said.

“Welcome to 2017 and the world of social media.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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