UPDATE: THE BOMB SQUAD HAS ARRIVED TO INVESTIGATE A SUSPICIOUS BLACK BAG LEFT ON THE DRIVEWAY AT 769 YORK AVENUE IN KAMLOOPS.
The Explosive Device Unit is closing 8 Street from Sudbury to Halston Avenue. Police are advising motorists to avoid 8 Avenue. The area will open once the unit has rendered the device on York Avenue safe.
KAMLOOPS - Police have closed off a block of York Avenue near Courtney Avenue to investigate a suspicious package reported just after 7 a.m. today.
The package was found in the driveway of 769 York Avenue by someone in the neighbourhood who contacted police.
"It's the same residence we investigated March 28 for the pipe bomb," RCMP Cpl. Cheryl Bush says. "So at this point we've contained the area, we've shut down the school (Bert Edwards Science Centre and Technology School) and the nearby daycare as a precaution. We're awaiting the arrival of the Explosive Device Unit from the lower mainland to assess."
The people inside the home were evacuated along with neighbours. RCMP made the decision to close the school in conjunction with the school district.
"They make that decision based on the totality of the situation," she says, "based on how many kids are in the school at the time, is it feasible to shut down, are we within a time frame that we can get that message out to parents without too much disruption."
School District 73 Assistant Superintendent Karl de Bruijn says while they don't feel there's any danger to the school they are reacting to the high level of concern felt by people during the last incident and being extra cautious.
"It was better to just close the school for the day," de Bruijn says. "Plus they (RCMP) discovered it a little later in the day. They had more time to analyze it last time and to determine the extent of the danger."
A message was sent to parents through an automated telephone system activated from the principal's home. Parents who didn't receive the message and attempted to deliver students were turned away. Any children who made it onto school grounds were held inside until parents could return to pick them up. School staff was moved to another location to continue preparing for tomorrow's classes.
"The secretary was able to answer people's questions on the phone," de Bruijn says. "We're certainly hoping we don't have any repeats of this. Obviously it really upsets everybody's schedule as well as raises everybody's level of concern and worry and we want schools to be a safe and happy place for kids to come. We appreciate the early contact by the RCMP and as you can see their presence is all around the neighbourhood."
The principal and a Mountie remained inside the school to flush the area and the gate was locked so people would be aware of the closure.
Mounties can't say what the suspicious package contains. Whatever it is, is located inside a bag and Bush says they can't get a close enough look to know for sure, however there's enough evidence to be concerned. The bomb squad unit is on their way, but it's unknown at this time when they'll arrive. They've directed local police how best to secure the area including the size of the perimeter, based on available information.
The other suspicious package containing explosive materials was discovered on the front step of the same property March 8, 2014 and was detonated by the RCMP bomb squad.
Because it's unknown what the current package contains, Bush says it's not known if further precautions will be necessary. More will be revealed once the Explosive Unit arrives.
"That's their area of expertise," she says. "They'll look at what they're dealing with and determine if it's an explosive device or not. Based on what they perceive it to be they will determine a potential blast area and from there they will make a determination, they will give us direction as to what further needs to be done, whether we need to expand our perimeter… whether they can move it safely, whether they have to detonate it, that all remains to be seen."
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— This story was updated at 9:30 to include details from Kamloops RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Cheryl Bush and a current photo.
— This story was updated at 10:10 a.m. to include details from an interview with School District 73Assistant Superintendent Karl de Bruijn.
— This story was corrected at 3:23 p.m. to change York Street to York Avenue.