A student is in custody after two staff members were stabbed Monday morning at Charles P. Allen High School on the first day back after March Break.
In an interview, Halifax Regional Police spokesperson Const. Nicolas Gagnon said police received a weapons complaint around 9:20 a.m. at the Bedford-area high school.
“Officers arrived on scene and quickly took one youth in custody, who is a student at the school,” he said. “Officers located three people who were injured. They’ve all been transported to hospital for treatment.”
Gagnon could not say how serious the injuries were. Police initially said four people were stabbed but later amended the number to three.
In a news conference Monday afternoon, Lindsey Bunin, the spokesperson for the Halifax Regional Centre for Education, described the situation as traumatic.
“We’re deeply saddened and shocked by this situation, and all of our hearts go out to the students and staff, especially, and their families right now at this very difficult time,” she said.
Bunin confirmed two staff members had been stabbed and said the student allegedly involved was also injured. She said the student was in the office when the incident took place.
She said the student left the building, but police were on scene “almost immediately” and apprehended him.
“It was all very quick and very immediate, so as soon as it was realized that there was a violent incident taking place, there was an announcement made, which was hold and secure, which means the students are to stay in place in their classrooms,” Bunin said.
The school was closed for the rest of the day,
Gayle Burris, who has two kids who attend Charles P. Allen High School, was one of dozens of parents anxiously waiting for her kids outside the school Monday morning.
Around noon, she told Global News that she had been waiting for at least 45 minutes for her two children.
“They said the child was arrested like two hours ago. Then why can’t the kids leave the school?” she said.
Burris said she didn’t receive any information from the school and found out about the incident through social media. She stayed in touch with her children over Facebook, she said.
“They’re saying that they’re not allowed out of the school. They told me that at one point they were playing loud music over the PA so they didn’t hear anything that was going on,” she said.
During the HRCE news conference, Bunin said parents were contacted through the PowerSchool Network shortly after 10 a.m.
“We do encourage anyone who may not have received an email to check their contact information in PowerSchool to make sure we do have their updated contact information,” she said.
One student, speaking outside the high school early Monday afternoon, said he was sitting in class when the hold-and-secure was called.
“I thought it was like a drill at first, because at first I didn’t want to think that it was a real emergency,” he said. “We were just sitting in class for like two hours, and there were rumours going around. … it was pretty wild.”
He, along with two other students who spoke with Global News, said they knew one staff member who was stabbed. They described him as a “nice guy” who “didn’t deserve any of it.”
“We were all feeling really bamboozled,” another student said. “It’s really wild to think about, that this could have been one of us or something else, it could have been really worse.”
Crisis team, child psychologists at school Tuesday
In an update sent to families, the school’s principal expressed gratitude for the quick action of staff, students and police — as well as the support from the community.
Classes will resume Tuesday at 12:45 p.m. and a crisis team will work with staff on how to help students.
Child psychologists, school social workers and school counsellors will be available over the next few days to speak to students individually and in group settings.
In a statement Monday evening, Education Minister Becky Druhan said the incident was “very troubling.”
“The staff and students at the school should be recognized for their quick actions. They followed their emergency management training (hold and secure), ensuring that no one else was injured or more seriously harmed,” Druhan wrote.
“Thank you, as well, to the many families who remained patient as our team and local police responded.”
The minister pointed out an investigation is underway by police, and that the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development will work with HRCE to review safety protocols and to “determine any next steps.” She said the department will also be working with the teachers’ union and other groups.
Druhan added that support teams will be at the school on Tuesday to assist staff and students with “the resources they need.”
“Right now, our attention is on the individuals directly impacted by the incident today and the broader school community,” she wrote.
“To the staff at C.P. Allen, thank you for being there for your students. I want to assure Nova Scotian students and families that we are committed to ensuring the safety of our schools.”
On social media, politicians expressed concern about school safety.
Mayor Mike Savage wrote on Twitter that his thoughts were with the victims and that “we must all ensure schools are safe for students and staff.”
Nova Scotia NDP Leader Claudia Chender also said that “we must do all we can to ensure that schools are safe for everyone.”
— With a file from Rebecca Lau