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RCMP considered risks of making school threat letter public

This week's strong police presence at Penticton schools could be scaled back after the weekend.
February 20, 2015 - 4:03 PM

PENTICTON - The threatening letter found on Penticton school property this week is in the hands of RCMP behavioural experts as they try to sort out who is behind the writing and why they did it.

A stack of roughly 30 copies of the letter containing what appears to be a threat by a young person to harm fellow students was found by staff in the parking lot of Skaha Middle School Wednesday morning, while another half dozen was located on Penticton High School grounds across the street. Police believe the letters were placed between 7 and 8 p.m. the previous evening. Classes remained open but schools were in partial lockdown.

Schools were quiet Friday, Feb. 20 during the scheduled professional development day, but police continued their work to identify those involved in the letter threat.

Penticton RCMP detachment Staff Sgt. Kurt Lozinski said the detachment has put in an exhaustive week tracking leads in the case, as the investigation continues.

“We’ve received approximately 30 tips, and have investigated them to the point we have runout of leads at this point,” Lozinski said, noting a number of the tips received were relatively inconsequential.

Lozinski said the investigation has involved the cooperation the school board and other interested groups.

“We were asked by the B.C. Centre for Safe Schools if it was a good idea to release the letter to the public,” Lozinski said.

“It wasn’t a unilateral decision. We sought input from all interested parties and weighed the pros and cons. Releasing the letter had benefits, but might have incited copycats. We thought it was better to release the letter and generate discussion.”

The letter itself has been sent to the RCMP’s Behavioural Science Group.

“They are the “Criminal Minds” of the RCMP,” explained Lozinski. “They will examine the letter and if it’s credible, may be able to profile someone.”

Lozinski said the police  have been and continue to take the letter threat seriously.

“Eight detectives and a number of officers have been working the case. It’s been our main focus all week,” he said.

“We’ve engaged the social services ministry, the local soup kitchen, the Salvation Army, even Value Village in following leads,” Lozinski said.

“We’ve even seized store video of persons of interest, but we have not been able to come up with any confirmed leads or connection."

Police will continue their investigation through the weekend, and re-assess the threat on Sunday night. If there are no changes, Lozinski expects police presence will be reduced, but not eliminated, at district schools on Monday.

Parents are advised to monitor school websites for any new information. Police will be working with school officials over the weekend to provide updates.

Lozinski feels the  person or persons responsible for producing the letter threats has left clues to their identity, with respect to something they did, or said concerning the incident.

“Parents, talk to your kids,” he said. “In cases like these, someone ends up talking about it.”

Anyone with any information is asked to call Penticton RCMP at 250-492-4300, or Okanagan Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

A threatening note that was left on school property earlier this week invoked a partial lockdown of Penticton schools on Thursday, Feb. 19.
A threatening note that was left on school property earlier this week invoked a partial lockdown of Penticton schools on Thursday, Feb. 19.
Image Credit: Contributed by Penticton RCMP

To contact the reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad at sarstad@infonews.ca or call 250-488-3065. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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