An 18-year-old Winnipeg man has been charged in connection with a YouTube video that threatens students at Kildonan East Collegiate with violence.
The man is a former student at the school on Concordia Avenue, police said.
He was arrested Thursday afternoon and is charged with uttering threats as well as mischief and making harassing communications. He has been released from custody on a promise to appear in court at a later date.
Const. Eric Hofley said the recent shootings that killed four people in La Loche, Sask., including two staff members at a school, have heightened police sensitivity to school threats.
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"In this day and age, with the tragic events that just occurred in La Loche, when someone allegedly is willing to post this type of video — threatening institutions, threatening people — the service is going to take that very seriously," he said.
Earlier this week, two schools in Manitoba's Interlake region heightened security, keeping students indoors due to a possible threat.
The video threatening Kildonan East students that surfaced this week isn't the first — another threatening video was posted in September. Both videos were posted on YouTube and name certain students as targets.
The recently posted video shows a still image of Kildonan East Collegiate as music plays in the background and a voice raps about inflicting physical violence on specific members of the student body and those at Kildonan East Collegiate in general.
"You best believe I'll be shopping for guns and ammo for y'all to disappear," the lyrics say, in part. "I'll take the whole school down 'cause you know I'm the man."
Videos taken off YouTube on Friday
One student named in both videos said she told the school's principal about the video posted in September at that time, but four months later, that first video was still online.
Both videos were taken off YouTube on Friday, said Kelly Barkman, superintendent of the River East Transcona School Division.
Barkman said when the first video surfaced, the principal contacted Winnipeg police and tried three times — all unsuccessfully — to have YouTube take it down.
The school division said it found out on Thursday that requests for removal from YouTube must be made by the person named in the video. This fact is clearly stated on YouTube's website.
The student who was named in both videos complained to YouTube directly on Thursday and both videos were taken down as a result.
'I felt like it was just wrong and disgusting for someone to make such a horrible video about someone.' - Student named in a YouTube video
"I know that we as a school division have pushed very hard for YouTube to take it off. I know that there were parents and other people who were involved in contacting them, and all I know is there was a good result and it was taken off," Barkman said on Friday.
School remains on high alert
"Personally, I'm very concerned. It is about making sure that our kids are safe not only in school, but we are all safe as citizens every day of our lives," Barkman said. "So one needs to take this really seriously."
All school staff and the Winnipeg Police Service were told, parents were notified via email, and the school was put on high alert. It remained that way Friday, meaning staff were monitoring the environment for suspicious people and activity, Barkman said.
All doors except one are locked to anyone trying to get inside and there are counsellors on site for staff and students who might need someone to talk to, he added.
'It is about making sure that our kids are safe not only in school, but we are all safe as citizens every day.' - Kelly Barkman, River East Transcona School Division superintendent
One of the students named in the video said other teens who were named were crying and did not know how to manage the situation.
"I felt like it was just wrong and disgusting for someone to make such a horrible video about someone," she said.
"This video's all talk but at the same time, there were serious threats made to the school, so it's not like a joke or anything."
While the student said she isn't scared to attend classes, she is embarrassed about the video.
"I just hate the fact that it's brought up everywhere you go. Like, 'Oh, did you see this video?'" she said.
"People from other schools texting me, 'Did you see this video? Like, you're mentioned in it.' It's just so annoying and it just makes me feel like I don't know what I did wrong."
'I hope you're happy'
She doesn't understand what motivated the person to create the video, she added.
"My message to them is, 'I hope you're happy,'" she said. "If this is something you enjoy doing, then wow, that's really sad.
"But you must have a lot of time on your hands to sit down and make your rap about it, edit it and put it on YouTube. You should be focusing on school."
The mother of another teen who was named in the video said on Thursday, she feared for her daughter's life.
"[My daughter's] terrified," she said.
"She's very, very terrified to go back. What do you do as a parent? If it would help to take my kids and run, I would do that. But unfortunately that's not going to work."
Barkman said plans are underway for an assembly next week, and he is working with the school to develop a plan for talking to students about how to use social media responsibly and how to react to cyberbullying.
He is encouraging parents to talk to their children about the threats and about appropriate use of social media.
"In light of all the things that are happening at different schools or in different places, I think we need to be vigilant on how we deal with this thing, including with social media," Barkman said.