Five Heritage Woods secondary students could be facing assault charges after several videos depicting violence that took place near the school were posted to social media last week.
A Port Moody Police Department spokesperson said the suspects were arrested Feb. 19 and the department's youth liaison officer has been in discussions with school administrators about the incident.
Sgt. Brad Sheridan would not get into specifics about videos of altercations posted to Instagram but said "social media posts did play a role in our investigation."
"We did make a number of arrests relative to an assault investigation we have undertaken," he told The Tri-City News. "They were all youths. They have been released into the custody of their parents."
The Tri-City News became aware of the Instagram videos Tuesday. One of the clips, which was still up as of Tuesday morning, showed one youth punching another youth in the face before several people jumped on top of the victim. In another clip, the camera holder can be seen pointing bear spray at a youth's face and demanding he empty his backpack.
The Tri-City News will not publish the names of the people involved in the incident as they are all minors.
Whether charges are approved is up to the Crown, Sheridan said, noting that police are still investigating.
Sheridan said schools are safe places and he encourages anyone who believes they may be the victim of a a crime to contact police.
"Port Moody is a very safe community," he said. "This is reflected in our schools. We do have a dedicated youth liaison officer who works closely with the school."
School District 43 said they are aware of the incident but would not be commenting.
"As the matter at HWSS is being addressed by the Port Moody Police we are unable to provide further comment in regard to this incident," said Ken Hoff, the assistant director of communications and community relations. "School District 43 takes all matters of student safety seriously and the school and district will cooperate fully with the police."
CONCERNED ABOUT VIOLENCE? HERE ARE SOME RESOURCES
Meanwhile, the provincial government recently updated protocols for school-related violence. Find out more here:
Need help? Here are some tips for students:
If you’d like to report something and/or are a concerned friend….
• Use the province’s erase Report It tool .
• Talk to a trusted adult (parent, teacher, school counsellor).
• Call your local police.
• Call 911 right away if you see a violent act taking place or are being victimized.
• Get help after the incident.
Here's more help:
• Anyone who has been a victim of crime in British Columbia, their family members and witnesses can use victim services. Call VictimLinkBC at 1-800-563-0808. Services include help to understand and deal with the effects of a crime, emotional support, referrals to other community agencies that can help, support through the court process, help to apply for financial benefits, if eligible. Find out more about VictimLink BC here:
• Need counselling? Find out more here
• Share Family and Community Services provides support for families and youth. Find out more here.
• Plea Community Services provides confidential counselling services to youth aged 13 to 18 and their families living in the Tri-Cities, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. A referral from the Ministry of Children and Family Development is required in order to access these services. Find out more here:
— with files from Diane Strandberg