Facebook hit list not like Colombine, Vancouver teen’s lawyer says

The lawyer representing a Vancouver high school student who police say had a hit list of students and teachers is rejecting suggestions police may have prevented a Colombine-style massacre.

VANCOUVER — The lawyer representing a Vancouver high school student who police say had a hit list of students and teachers is rejecting suggestions police may have prevented a Colombine-style massacre.

The 18-year-old Grade 12 student has no criminal record nor history of violence or behaviour problems, David Karp said Tuesday.

Police arrested the teenager on Friday and he appeared in provincial court Tuesday on seven weapons-related offences, including possession of a shotgun, a machete and a sword.

He was remanded in custody until Friday, when the date will be set for a bail hearing.

Insp. Scott Thompson, who heads Vancouver police’s youth services unit, said investigators now are interviewing people on the list police say was posted on Facebook. Further charges could result.

Although his name appeared on the provincial court docket connected to the weapons charges, Thompson said police won’t identify him because he was still a youth when alleged offences related to the hit list occurred.

Karp said a brief psychological assessment was done after his arrest late Friday night to ensure he was fit to stand trial. No further evaluation is planned, he said.

“He’s coherent, he’s cognizant,” Karp said in an interview. “He’s quiet and he’s obviously quite concerned with the situation he’s in.”

Thompson called the case the most serious school threat Vancouver police have encountered.

It drew immediate comparisons in the media to the April 1999 Colombine massacre, where two students at the Colorado high school systematically shot and killed 11 students and a teacher.

It’s also been compared with the Taber, Alta., high school shooting eight days after Colombine, where a 14-year-old student killed one student and wounded another, and the 2006 Dawson College rampage by Kimveer Gill, who killed one student and wounded 20 at the Montreal school.

Gill had posted photos of himself brandishing a semi-automatic carbine on social-networking web sites.

But Karp played down the 117-name Facebook hit list, which included 71 students and teachers at Templeton high school on Vancouver’s east side.

“People do all kinds of crazy, stupid things all the time,” he said. “How many people have said I’m going to go kill that person? It may sound concerning, obviously, but who knows?

“What are we really dealing with here? This is one weapon in a house and there’s allegedly some information on a computer that is scary, of course, for everyone involved.

“But this isn’t a case where someone showed up with an arsenal of weapons at a school and started shooting people. So quite frankly I don’t think the Colombine equation fits at all.”

Thompson also dismissed the Colombine connection as speculative. But he said the presence of weapons elevated this above the juvenile stupidities that often surface on social-networking sites.

“Clearly the firearm changed the complexion of this situation dramatically,” he said.