Police increase presence at UBC following lockdown
RCMP remain tight-lipped about the nature of Wednesday's threat
Last Updated: Wednesday, January 30, 2008 | 11:36 PM PT
A threat that people would be harmed prompted police to lock down the Biological Sciences Building at the University of British Columbia, RCMP said Wednesday night.
RCMP Insp. Dave Walsh said the lockdown was a necessary action to protect the safety of students and teaching staff.
The university received a threat in the morning targeting the building located at Main Mall and University Boulevard on the campus, RCMP said.
"The content of the threat is specific [and] contains a deadline," RCMP spokesman Insp. Dave Walsh said.
Police would not elaborate on the nature of the threat or how it was made.
Walsh said police believe the threat has been mitigated even though no arrests have been made. He added that police presence will be higher than usual on the campus for the next few days.
Asked if the threat involved shooting, Walsh would only said it was centred directly on the Biological Sciences Building at a specific time.
"I can't confirm or deny that's what the situation was. But I will say that it was again a very serious offence that we had no choice but to act in this manner," he said.
RCMP locked down the building around 2 p.m., barring people from entering or exiting. At around 4:30 p.m., police began evacuating the building, going floor by floor and bringing people out.
Students are seen outside the Biological Sciences Building after RCMP ordered it be locked down.
Police canine teams, the Lower Mainland emergency response team and the explosive disposal unit were all at the scene.
Lockdown was necessary, said RCMP
Walsh said the lockdown was a necessary action.
"We were confident enough not to treat it as a hoax given the history of college and school shootings in North America," he said.
Police did not immediately evacuate the building because of concerns for the safety of students and teaching staff, Walsh said.
"To release a bunch of students into an area where you don't know the suspect … you're creating a target-rich environment in which to release all these people into," he said.
"You're much better off locking that location down. At least the people are safe in there."
Celeste Leander, an instructor at the university, told CBC News she was in the Biological Sciences Building in the afternoon with a student when the emergency response team came in.
"There were about 15 or so [ERT] team members with guns drawn and they escorted us out of the building," she said.
CBC News received several e-mails and phone calls from professors and staff members who were inside the building. They said they were told to secure their offices and stay inside with their doors locked.
"I wandered out to the hallway … my department head walking down the hallway told us all sorts of security issues and he told us to go into our offices," a zoology professor told CBC News over the telephone.
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