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Updated: Police identify 2 suspects in school threats

Thunder Bay police have arrested two youths in connection with some threats made against local Catholic schools, but continue to investigate others.

THUNDER BAY – The Thunder Bay Police Service has identified two youths as suspects in connection with recent threats made against several local Catholic schools.

Police announced in a release Thursday afternoon they had charged one “young person” with mischief under $5,000 and uttering threats against St. Ignatius High School, and identified an 11-year-old as responsible for a threat against Pope John Paul school.

The 11-year-old suspect cannot be charged due to their age, with police saying the school and children’s services would instead “be following up with appropriate action.”

Both suspects were students at the schools they targeted, Const. Tanka Awosika, a school resource officer with the TBPS, confirmed in an interview.

He did not provide a specific age for the suspect charged in the St. Ignatius incident, but said the person was a youth between 12 and 17 years of age.

Police have not identified any connection between those two incidents, but Awosika said it was too early to rule out connections related to a threat made against St. Patrick’s High School and an incident of hateful graffiti at Holy Family School.

Asked about what may have motivated the threats, Awosika cited mischief as a primary factor in at least one case.

"The ones we've been able to identify [suspects], where people have been brought to justice... one of them, we believe, was more mischievous in nature, that caused just an unnecessary use of resources to respond."

"The other one, that's a very good question - I wish I could answer that... I don't know the motivation."

The threats involved expressions of intent to cause physical harm to people, he added.

Awosika said investigating the incidents has been a drain on already stretched police resources.

"It's a significant burden on the emergency services system to pull multiple officers away to one incident, which means there's other incidents where police are not responding immediately... which could be just as serious, if not more serious," he said.

The four incidents occurred between Nov. 21 and Nov. 29, and all targeted Thunder Bay District Catholic School Board schools.

Awosika said the graffiti involved a hateful message targeted at an identifiable group, but said police could not divulge the targeted group as an investigation continues. He added police also avoid sharing some details to discourage "copycat" offences.

“It was very derogatory, it was hateful in nature,” he said. “It has no place in our school system, it has no place in our society.”

Awosika added police have reason to suspect the graffiti incident was not perpetrated by a student.

Anyone with information that could help identify suspects in the incidents is urged to contact police at (807) 684-1200 or submit tips anonymously to Crime Stoppers or online at

Ian Kaufman

About the Author: Ian Kaufman

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