Teen charged after ‘tons of rumours’ prompted fear during weapons call at Dartmouth High School
Halifax Regional Police charged a 15-year-old in relation to a weapons call at Dartmouth High School on Wednesday that prompted students to barricade themselves in classrooms as police carried out an extensive search.
Police say that shortly before 3 p.m., they received a call that a male youth had allegedly threated another male youth with what was believed to be a gun in the area of Dartmouth High School on 95 Victoria Rd.
The youth then fled into the school, with police believing he was still in possession of the firearm.
James Fougere, a Grade 11 student at Dartmouth high, said he was sitting in class with about 10 minutes to go when the school was placed on lockdown.
“I didn’t think anything of it because it’s happened a bunch of times, but rumours started going around. And of course, there was tons of rumours and it started off with, ‘Somebody got shot,'” Fougere said on Thursday.
“Which, later on, was proved untrue.”
The weapons complaint caused the school to be locked down and RCMP and Halifax police to respond with multiple units, including patrol officers, members of the Emergency Response Team (ERT), school response officers, a K-9 unit, a crisis negotiator and police investigators.
Officers secured the area, closing down Victoria Road from Thistle Street to Nantucket Avenue, before searching the school.
“Eventually, we all started panicking because we heard dogs and all of that kind of stuff,” Fougere said.
Morgan Levangie, a Grade 12 student and student council co-president at the high school, said she was at home and didn’t have classes on Wednesday.
“I was at home with my mom and I actually saw Haligonia’s tweet and it just said, ‘Possible gunman in Dartmouth High,'” she said.
“So right away, I just thought the worst and was super worked up.”
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She eventually headed to the school.
“I was sitting up at the top of the hill with a lot of scared parents as well,” she said. “It was definitely a different experience, being on the outside and communicating with all my friends on the inside of the school.”
“I just think of the Parkland shooting. … Like they said, you never really believe it’s going to be your school until it actually happens. And it just became super real and terrifying knowing that a student could have possibly had a gun here at Dartmouth high.”
Halifax police say approximately 5 p.m., the suspect turned himself over to police and was taken into custody without incident. An imitation firearm was located in the school.
Police say that at approximately 5:30 p.m., students were cleared to leave the school.
Officers say there were no injuries related to the incident.
The 15-year-old male youth, who cannot be named due to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, is now scheduled to appear in Halifax Provincial Court at a later date, where a judge will decide whether he is tried as an adult. He has been released from custody on conditions.
He faces charges of:
- assault with a weapon
- pointing a firearm
- possession of a weapon
Doug Hadley, coordinator at the Halifax Regional Centre of Education, says it sent a social worker and psychologist to Dartmouth high on Thursday while guidance counsellors were going class to class to check in on students and staff.
“At this point, it’s all about managing student need and providing support and making them feel safe,” Hadley said.
Fougere says he’s not going to let the incident change him.
“I get it happens and stuff, but I’m not going to stress about it because you got to keep going,” he said.
— With files from Elizabeth McSheffrey
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