Toronto

Principal reassures students after teen allegedly planned school attack on Montreal Massacre anniversary

The principal of a Toronto high school says he wants students to "feel safe" after a 17-year-old boy was charged with planning to attack the school on the 27th anniversary this week of the Montreal Massacre.

Toronto police allege teen charged with uttering threats intended to attack Oakwood Collegiate

Steve Yee, principal of Oakwood Collegiate Institute, says he wants to make sure students 'feel safe' after a teenager was charged with an alleged planned attack on the school. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

The principal of a Toronto high school says he wants students to "feel safe" after a 17-year-old boy was charged with planning to attack the school on the 27th anniversary this week of the Montreal Massacre.

"It is a situation that certainly is concerning in terms of the potential threat that was reported," Steve Yee told reporters Thursday. "I wanted to make sure that they hear from me as a principal."

The boy, who appeared in court Tuesday, was released under his parents' supervision. He has been charged with uttering threats of bodily harm and uttering death threats.

He cannot be identified under provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The Toronto District School Board confirmed that the boy attends a school in the district, but wouldn't say if it is Oakwood Collegiate Institute.

A U.S. citizen came across the alleged threat against the school in an online blog and contacted Toronto police on Dec. 1. 

Cybercrime investigators traced the alleged threat to the school board's computer network, and with the help of the board, they were able to find the exact computer used to write the post. Officers showed up to search the boy's home around 4 a.m. ET Tuesday. Toronto police said they found a number of weapons, including a machete, a hatchet, two swords, four knives, and arrows.

"I spoke to the students about the situation and how they're feeling ... I want to make sure that they feel safe," principal Yee said. 

'Supports' offered to students

He said the school has a team of five social workers, a school psychologist and other resources to support the students in "every way."

"There are supports here for them, if needed, because it takes some time to be able to digest and process."

Police would not release the exact wording of the alleged threat, but Det. Len Nicholson said it did not specifically target women. However, the teen allegedly mentioned the attack at École Polytechnique on Dec. 6, 1989, when 14 women were killed by a lone gunman.

Yee said that on Tuesday there were no safety concerns at Oakwood Collegiate, and he stressed that in a message to students.

Police had informed Yee of the potential threat after school on Monday. He said he received another call early Tuesday morning from police, telling him someone was apprehended and there was "no safety concern" at the school.

Yee said there were no changes to security at the school in the wake of the alleged threat.

Students shocked

Yee said the revelation of the potential threat did not seem to impact attendance.

Speaking with reporters, students said they were shocked by the investigation. 

"​I'm really surprised, especially at Oakwood," said Grade 10 student Joshua Yumbla. "Oakwood is a peaceful school. Everyone knows everyone."

Jay Campbell, also in Grade 10, echoed that sentiment.

"My mom's pretty shocked. She's overwhelmed. She didn't want me to come to school, but I just had to come to school," he said.

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