Hoax bomb threat targets North Vancouver private school

A bomb threat targeting a North Vancouver private school triggered a massive police response Monday morning – but the threat appears to have been a hoax.

North Vancouver RCMP say someone called their front desk at 8:22 a.m. delivering a warning of bombs having been planted at Bodwell High School, a private boarding school on the 900 block of Harbouside Drive.

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“They were advising there was a bomb at the school – actually several – and the potential to kill a lot of people,” said Cpl. Richard De Jong, North Vancouver RCMP spokesman.

Within a few minutes the caller was back on the phone repeating “pretty much the same thing,” De Jong said.

The call instigated a massive response from the detachment and other units around the Lower Mainland

“It was literally all hands on deck. Every available car went down to the area and approached with caution because we didn’t know what we had,” he said. “Every available person from traffic to plain clothes, to every (general duty) person, plus our Lower Mainland dog unit, plus the (emergency response team) plus the explosive device unit.”

Classes were not in session as the school was closed for spring break but the nearby dorm building was full of students.

Officers cut off access to the area, including blocking off Fell Avenue and the Spirit Trail, and went door-to-door evacuating nearby businesses, De Jong said. TransLink supplied buses as temporary shelters, eventually taking three busloads of students and adults to Mickey McDougall Community Centre. The evacuation went smoothly, De Jong said.

“People were quite compliant. When directed to leave a building because of a potential bomb threat, they usually don’t think twice,” he said. “It was done orderly and safely.”

On the scene, police used explosives-sniffing dogs to check every room on the Bodwell campus. By 1 p.m. investigators had determined there were no bombs and reopened access to the school.

Part of the investigation will involve playing a recording of the threat for staff and students at the school to see if they recognize the voice.

“We’re determined to find out who made that call and look at potential charges of public mischief,” De Jong said.

Housam Hallis, Bodewell’s vice-principal praised the RCMP for their response.

“It was an unfounded threat and the students were evacuated to a safe location. The RCMP did a fantastic job looking after them,” he said.

Hallis said the school’s principal would be communicating directly with parents of students.

In January, West Vancouver police evacuated West Vancouver Secondary following a bomb threat. No suspects were found in that hoax.

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