Threat that sent three schools into 'shelter in place' mode deemed unfounded
Published Tuesday, May 28, 2019 4:55PM EDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 28, 2019 5:43PM EDT
Students at three Ottawa schools today were told to stay inside their classrooms as police responded to an unspecified threat.
At one location, heavily armed officers were seen entering the school. The three schools are all along Alta Vista Drive. They include St. Pat's High School, Ridgemont high school and Charles H. Hulse elementary school.
Ottawa Police were checking the bags of anyone they let into St. Pat's high school, but many students, like Maya St. Prix were locked out, left in the rain and wondering what was happening with their classmates inside.
“I came to school thinking I was going to my religion class and I can't go,” says St. Prix, a Grade 12 student at St. Pat’s, “They're not letting anyone come or go and they're doing locker checks and bag checks on everyone.”
Ottawa Police say an emailed threat was sent early this morning to the schools, saying someone was going to get hurt. Late Tuesday afternoon, police deemed the threat unfounded but confirmed their investigation continued..
“All we know is we're locked out,” says Grade 11 student Ethan Fink, “It makes you feel unsafe in your school when this happens and you're just trying to get in your class and have a semi-normal day."
By 9 a.m., heavily armed officers had arrived at all three schools along Alta Vista including Ridgemont and Charles H. Hulse Elementary.
“It's pretty weird,” says Grade 12 St. Pat’s student Mylow King, “to come to school and it's full of cops and everything; that's crazy. I think you got to chill with the guns, especially here. That sucks.”
The schools went into a "shelter in place" mode where the school doors are locked but students can still move around the school. But that wasn't the case at St. Pat's where students say they hadn't been able to eat all day and had just one supervised bathroom break.
“All my friends, they're hungry,” says Grade 12 student Paola Lefuny, who wasn’t able to enter the school, “and they need to use the washroom. It's crazy; this has never happened before.”
The security measures were lifted around 1 p.m. at both Ridgemont and Charles H. Hulse. But students at St. Pat's were still in a secure mode all day and were dismissed in stages, with no access to their lockers on their way out.
Grade 10 student Mark Habboosh says the security measures were necessary.
“It makes me happy,” he says, “Police are doing their job to keep us safe.”
The Ottawa Catholic School Board will notify students and parents Tuesday evening if classes will resume at St. Pat’s tomorrow.