Thunder Bay·Updated

Police in Thunder Bay, Ont., charge 14-year-old over high school threat

Police in Thunder Bay, Ont., have charged a 14-year-old boy over a threat made Monday against a city high school.

Police say threatening message posted on social media

Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Thunder Bay was placed under a hold and secure protocol on Monday due to a threat against the school. It was lifted early Monday afternoon. (Lakehead District School Board)

Police in Thunder Bay, Ont., have charged a 14-year-old boy over a threat made Monday against a city high school.

The accused has been charged with uttering threats, police said, and is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.

Police were called to investigate the threat against Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute, which came in the form of a post on social media that included a picture of a weapon. The post was seen by several students, police said, and the board subsequently put the school under a hold and secure protocol but that was lifted early Monday afternoon.

A hold and secure involves officials locking the doors and closely monitoring all entries to, and exits from, the building.

Officers were called to the school around 11:30 a.m. on Monday about the "disturbing post," Thunder Bay police said in a written release.

Lakehead Public Schools said Agnew H. Johnston, Edgewater Park, Kingsway Park, and Westmount were also placed under hold and secure protocols as a precaution, but they were also lifted early Monday afternoon.

The Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board said all of its south-side schools, with the exception of St. Jude, were also under hold and secure, and those protocols were lifted as well.

Threats taken seriously

This is the second time so far this school year police in Thunder Bay have investigated a social media post that was taken as a threat against a city high school.

During the previous school year, Hammarskjold High School was closed numerous times over anonymous threats. Two students have been arrested and charged in relation to those incidents.

Thunder Bay Police Service School Resource Officer Frank Tropea said it's "imperative" people realize any perceived threat posted on social media will be taken seriously.

Thunder Bay Police Service School Resource Officer Frank Tropea.

"It's serious," Tropea said Monday. "Thunder Bay police now has invested a lot of time over the last year-and-a-half with threats and posts and stuff like that. It's taken a lot of man hours, and it ties a lot of people up."

"We just want to make sure people know that, even if it's a joke or not meant to be serious, it's going to be taken serious."

Tropea encouraged parents to talk to their kids about what they're posting online.

"Is there something, maybe, deeper that's going on?" he said. "Maybe someone's ... getting bullied, and they don't know how to face it."

And, Tropea said, anyone who comes across what they think is a threat online should report it to police.

"Take it serious," he said. "If it ends up not being serious, we'd rather have that looked at first, and make sure everybody's safe at school."