Manitoba boy accused of threatening school shooting while playing online video game

A 12-year-old boy from Manitoba is charged with two counts of uttering threats after online video game players in the U.S. told police a fellow player said he planned to start a school shooting.

Police departments in Wisconsin, New York reported threats to RCMP

RCMP say a 12-year-old boy from Manitoba is charged with uttering threats after an online video game player allegedly threatened to start a school shooting. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

A 12-year-old boy from Manitoba is charged with two counts of uttering threats after online video game players in the U.S. told police a fellow player said he planned to start a school shooting.

The Onalaska Wisconsin Police Department and the Oswego New York Police Department contacted Manitoba RCMP about a potential threat to a school in the province on Feb. 19, the Mounties said Wednesday.

Officer Barry Holm, of the Onalaska police in Wisconsin, said he was contacted by the mother of a youth concerned about messages sent to him and another youth while playing Call of Duty on Xbox.

Holm said three threatening messages were sent.

"It said 'I don't think I will be on. I'm sick of bullies at my school. The school's going to pay.' He thanked friends for being there and basically said that he hopes he would be making it out alive. [The first messaged continued,] 'School shooting commencing 50 minutes,'" Holm said.

"And there was another message that came through that said, 'We're commencing in 30 minutes. Four of my friends versus 234 students and 24 teachers.' And then a third one came and said 'Commencing 23 minutes. I love all of you.' And that was the last one that we'd seen."

Holm said Microsoft, the manufacturer of Xbox, provided account information, including a postal code. Winnipeg Police put Holm in contact with the RCMP when it was determined that postal code was for a small town in southeastern Manitoba.

RCMP patrolled the schools in the area while trying to locate the youth.

"That person was located in a few hours of us receiving the call. There were never any actual threats to the school, and further investigation on our part confirmed he did not have any access to firearms," Manitoba RCMP Sgt. Bert Paquet said.

Holm and Paquet said this is the first time they've had to deal with an online threat directed towards a school.

"I've been doing this work for many years. I've never become aware of a similar incident, an online threat being made during a game with total strangers," Paquet said. "Definitely not something we see every day."

The boy has been remanded into custody and is scheduled to appear in court on March 1.