Burnaby RCMP is urging teens to avoid spreading rumours online, after a false school-shooting threat spread among Burnaby South Secondary students on social media earlier this week, eating up police resources and scaring students and parents.
“The resources required to conduct a thorough investigation over a false threat could have a serious impact on other investigations in Burnaby where the resources could have been put to an authentic investigation,” Cpl. Daniela Panesar told the NOW. “Other issues to consider are the fear and stress experienced by other students, parents, and school staff.”
A number of students stayed away from school Tuesday, after a rumour spread on Snapchat that someone was planning to shoot up the school.
“Everybody was terrified; everybody was talking about it,” Grade 8 student Bardya Nassirian told the NOW.
He said he stayed home after he got a group Snapchat from fellow students at about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday warning of a possible school shooting.
“A lot of students didn’t go to school today,” he said Tuesday.
Panesar said a Burnaby South student had overheard another student making a shooting threat.
That student had then posted that overheard threat on Snapchat, according to Panesar, and a concerned parent who saw it contacted police.
“After the investigation it was determined that the threat was confirmed false,” Panesar said. “Meaning that the individual made a threat but that it wasn’t meant to be a serious threat.”
Police, however, have to treat all such incidents seriously, Panesar said.
“I can’t speak to the exact number of resources that were dedicated to this file but a considerable amount of resources are used to investigative these threats to ensure the safety of children and school staff,” she said.
Once the shooting rumour had spread, however, Panesar said students did the right thing reporting it to school officials and parents.
Burnaby school district safe and caring schools director Sue Dorey agrees.
“The kids are learning from this and doing what we’re teaching them,” she said in an emailed statement. “They’re on social media a lot, and when they see a concern they let us know. We then work with the RCMP to investigate.”
Dorey said safe school specialists in the district will continue to work with students about “what’s appropriate on social media.”