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Originator of high school threat identified

Police said there was no actual threat to public safety in the incident, which closed Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute on Friday and left St. Patrick High School and several elementary schools under hold-and-secure.
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Westgate Police
Police investigate a threat allegedly made on social media at Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute on Monday, Sept. 9, 2019. (Leith Dunick, tbnewswatch.com)

THUNDER BAY - City police say they have identified the originator of a threat made against two local high schools and determined there was no actual safety risk to the public. 

Police have not said if an arrest has been made. 

The alleged threats appeared on Snapchat just after 8 p.m. this past Thursday, the post featuring a photograph of a rifle and the caption, 'Watch out Westgate."

Westgate Collegiate and Vocational Institute was closed on Friday. Later that day a similar posting, appearing to target St. Patrick High School, was discovered. Students at St. Patrick and several nearby elementary schools were immediately put under a hold-and-secure protocol. 

Police turned their investigation over to the department's major crime section to investigate. Their cyber crime unit was also called in. 

Both Westgate, which was targeted earlier in the school year by another threat, and St. Patrick high schools will be open on Tuesday, according to releases issued on Sunday by their respective boards. 

Police would like to remind the public that threats of this nature will be taken seriously by police and the origin of these threats will be thoroughly investigated. Charges may be laid even if no threat was made but the intention of the post was to cause mischief.

Police would also like to remind parents to have a conversation with their children about posting responsibly on social media.

For up-to-date information about the status of local schools please visit school boards' social media accounts and websites:

- Lakehead Public Schools https://twitter.com/LakeheadSchools
- Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board https://twitter.com/tbc_schools
- Conseil scolaire de district catholique des Aurores boreales https://www.facebook.com/csdcab

If you see suspicious activity on social media, police ask that you please report it immediately.

See the full news release below:

NEWS RELEASE
THUNDER BAY POLICE SERVICE
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The Thunder Bay Police Service continues to investigate recent threats made to St. Patrick and Westgate High schools.

As a result of an investigation, which included members of the TBPS Cyber Crime Unit, the location of the originator of this threat has been identified and it has been determined that there was no actual safety risk to the public.

Police were originally made aware of a potential threat that was posted on Snapchat after 8 p.m. on Thursday, October 10. The snap featured a photograph of what appeared to be a rifle with a caption "watch out Westgate".

The complaint was immediately handed over to the Service's Major Crime Section and officers continued to investigate.

The next morning Police learned of a second post featuring a similar photograph and caption, which appeared to direct a threat toward St. Patrick High school. Further investigation determined the post was consistent with a threat targeting that school.

The Thunder Bay Police Service's Cyber Crime Unit and various other police resources have been used to advance this investigation.

Police would like to remind the public that threats of this nature will be taken serious by police and the origin of these threats will be thoroughly investigated. Charges may be laid even if no threat was made but the intention of the post was to cause mischief.

Police would also like to remind parents to have a conversation with their children about posting responsibly on social media.

For up-to-date information about the status of local schools please visit school boards' social media accounts and websites:

- Lakehead Public Schools https://twitter.com/LakeheadSchools
- Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board https://twitter.com/tbc_schools
- Conseil scolaire de district catholique des Aurores boreales https://www.facebook.com/csdcab

If you see suspicious activity on social media, please report it immediately.



 



Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith has been the editor of Thunder Bay Source for 17 years and has served a similar role with TBNewsWatch.com since 2009. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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