P.E.I. public schools will be open this week despite an ongoing investigation into an anonymous tip of a firearm being brought into one of them.
A short-notice press meeting was held at the Shaw Building in Charlottetown late on Sunday, Feb. 23. Island police and education representatives announced the tip was received on the afternoon of Friday, Feb. 21.
Sgt. Kevin Baillie with the P.E.I. RCMP said their investigation is ongoing, but the threat has since been deemed not credible, leading police and school boards to believe that it is safe to open schools.
“We haven’t turned up any information that would suggest that this threat was at all credible,” he said.
The press meeting was called so that Islanders could know about the situation, namely parents and students, as well as to get ahead of rumours potentially circulating, he said.
Baillie was one of the first to respond to the tip. It was received at about 3 p.m. on Feb. 21, he said.
“The threat was that an anonymous person was going to bring a firearm to a school,” Baillie said. “We don’t believe the person that passed on this information would be the person who would bring the firearm to the school.”
The threat wasn’t aimed at a particular person. The tip didn’t specify which school the firearm would be brought into, meaning all of P.E.I.’s public schools were subject to investigation.
“There was not a lot of details,” Baillie said. “(And) there’s some small details we’re not releasing at this time.”
Baillie would not specify what kind of firearm the threat referred to.
Immediately, Baillie worked to contact P.E.I.'s school boards and conduct an investigation over the weekend. School principals were involved to see if they had any knowledge of events within their school that could possibly lead to this threat.
MacLeod starts, anonymous tip to police said that an individual would bring a firearm to school #PEI— Ernesto Carranza (@Ernesto_Carranz) February 23, 2020
Bailey is next, said that investigations have been ongoing. But no information has turned up to make the threat credible. There was no exact location and no specific target.— Ernesto Carranza (@Ernesto_Carranz) February 23, 2020
Just one tip. Brief not a lot of details. Just that someone would bring a gun to a school, said Bailey. Can’t give much detail on what kind of tip it was. Very thorough in th investigation said MacLeod. Spoke to all principles across the Island.— Ernesto Carranza (@Ernesto_Carranz) February 23, 2020
Bailey said they have been working very close with the school board, looking at any individuals that may be involved. Not credible evidence was discovered though. The conference is to quash rumours about what was happening in schools. Investigation is very much is still ongoing— Ernesto Carranza (@Ernesto_Carranz) February 23, 2020
Baillie currently speculates that the tip was based on a conversation someone overheard - the person who made the threat may have been disgruntled, and the person who made the tip may not have known the full context of what they heard.
“Because of the nature of the threat - how it was made,” he said.
Bethany MacLeod, deputy minister of education, said school principals will be in contact with parents and students this week.
“So parents will be aware of what’s going on.”
School counsellors will be available to provide support to students and staff who may want or need it, she said.
Police presence in schools may increase throughout the week. Officer Tim Keizer, representing municipal police, said P.E.I.’s public schools already have a regular presence of patrolling police officers.