Threats against 5 Medicine Hat students could be a prank, but prompts lockdowns, school closure

Threats made against five high-school students in Medicine Hat have prompted several schools in the city to go into lockdown and one school to close for the day.

McCoy High School closed and students sent home as safety precaution

Threats made against five high-school students in Medicine Hat have prompted several schools in the city to go into lockdown and one school to close for the day.

Police were notified on Sunday night at about 7:15 p.m. that the students received anonymous text messages "indicating potential harm" to them. 

McCoy High School officials decided to close for the day and send students home as a safety precaution. 

"When you have something like this, it's like a bomb threat, we take it very seriously and it may amount to nothing but in the meantime the safety of our kids is paramount," said Joe Colistro, superintendent of Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education.

The major crimes unit of the Medicine Hat Police Service is investigating the threats, including the possibility that it's a prank similar to one that originated in the U.S. in 2013.

Several other schools, including all schools in the Medicine Hat School District 76 and Eagle Butte High School southeast of the city opted to lock down until further notice.

"Redcliff RCMP expect to be present at Eagle Butte High School throughout the day as the school is currently operating under their school safety protocols," RCMP said in a release. 

Three of the threatened students attend the same Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education high school, one student attends a high school located in the Prairie Rose School Division and the fifth student does not live in the community, police said in a statement.

The Medicine Hat police major crimes section is trying to determine the origin of the threat and to identify the culprit.

Local police and Redcliff RCMP posted extra officers at each of the local high schools as a precaution.

Anyone with information in relation to this threat is asked to contact the Medicine Hat Police Service at 403-529-8420.

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