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3 Taber schools, local Walmart receive hoax bomb threats Friday

Click to play video: '3 Taber schools and Walmart focus of hoax bomb threats Friday' 3 Taber schools and Walmart focus of hoax bomb threats Friday
Police are investigating anonymous bomb threats left by voicemail to schools and a local store in Taber on Friday. Demi Knight reports – Feb 8, 2019

It was a scary start to the school day in Taber, Alta., on Friday as three schools received anonymous bomb threats via voice messages.

Police were called to both the W.R. Myers/D.A. Ferguson school complex and L.T. Westlake Elementary School early Friday morning.

READ MORE: Kelvin High School evacuated due to possible bomb threat

W.R. Myers High School and its attached counterpart, D.A. Ferguson Middle School, were evacuated due to their population, but the elementary school was not.

“Given the size and complexity of the W.R. Myers/D.A. Ferguson school complex, the recommendation was to evacuate the building,” said Wilco Tymensen, superintendent of the Horizon School Division.

By 9:35 a.m., L.T. Westlake had been cleared of all risk by police and, just 20 minutes later, so were W.R. Myers and D.A. Ferguson.

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A third threat was then received by Central School in the early afternoon after students and staff had gone home for the weekend. Upon further investigation, Taber police determined that the threat was also a hoax.

READ MORE: Bomb threats demanding Bitcoin investigated across Canada, U.S.

The Horizon School Division first released the information through its social media sites today, announcing on Facebook the threats received by each school. Although the division also sent out a statement for parents, at least one parent felt that first learning of the hoaxes through Facebook wasn’t the appropriate way for the situation to be handled.

“Regardless of whether my child is there or not, they should phone each parent and let them know, not just let them find out on Facebook,” said Tara Longhurst, a parent of a student from W.R. Myer High School.

However, Tymensen said social media is the fastest way to reach all parents.

“Given today’s age, as soon as you phone one things will go viral on social media, and you’re getting inundated, potentially, with phone calls as well so, typically, our process is we try to communicate broadly and quickly,” said Tymensen.

Horizon School Division issued a statement on Facebook. Facebook/horizonschooldivisionno.67

The division is offering counselling services to any students affected by Friday’s events.

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Walmart Canada also confirmed Friday that its Taber location was the target of a bomb threat twice in 24 hours. The first occurred Thursday night via an anonymous phone call, while the second took place on Friday. In both cases, the store had to be evacuated as police conducted a search.

Taber police released a statement late Friday afternoon confirming the bomb threats at each location and stating the matters are under investigation but that no more information will be released at this time.

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