Photo: Ethan Morneau, staff
Friday News Release from Nanaimo RCMP:
Shortly after 1 pm on Thursday, October 21, 2021, a single caller made numerous 911 calls to the Nanaimo RCMP stating that shots were being fired at a local school and that there were multiple casualties. The caller did not specify which school was involved and provided only a five-block radius in south Nanaimo.
Police immediately notified two schools in the immediate area; Fairview Elementary and Nanaimo and District Secondary School. NDSS was immediately placed in lockdown. School Liaison Officers at NDSS worked quickly to ensure that staff and students were safe and secured inside the school. Fairview Elementary was contacted and staff advised police that students had already been dismissed early due to parent-teacher interviews, and that there were no concerns at their location. There were also no emergencies or suspicious activities reported at NDSS.
“When the officers involved were satisfied that it appeared the calls were a hoax, the investigation moved towards identifying who was responsible,” said Constable Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.
Using cell phone technology and police databases, the North Island Operations Communication Centre (OCC) traced the location of the phone, then determined who the phone was registered to and what vehicles were associated with the suspect.
With this information in hand, at approximately 2 pm, officers located the suspect in his vehicle, parked along Howard Ave. The suspect, age 34, was located and arrested for Public Mischief and Breach of pre-existing conditions from previous police files. The cell phone used to make the calls was also located in the vehicle.
With the suspect in custody, the lockdown was lifted. The School Liaison Officers then ensured senior management at both schools were briefed and updated on the actions they undertook to resolve the situation. The suspect is currently in custody with charges pending.
“This was a disturbing sequence of events that was resolved quickly and efficiently through the combined efforts of the RCMP North Island Operations Communications Centre (OCC) and our officers. The training of the OCC and their real-time communication with officers in the area, allowed for the retrieval of timely information from police databases and for this incident to be resolved safely and efficiently,” said O’Brien.