Online gun hoax involving Red Deer high school draws swift response from RCMP

A Red Deer teenager who posted an online photo of friend with an airsoft gun is now facing a charge.

Red Deer RCMP have charged a 16-year-old male after he took a photo of a friend holding an airsoft rifle and posted it to social media Sunday evening with a warning that students shouldn’t attend school the next day.

Police said in a release that the hoax threat was disseminated to approximately 300 students via social media shortly before 8:30 p.m., and further shared from there. The threat, which focused on Hunting Hills High School, was immediately reported to RCMP, who identified the individuals involved and began an investigation right away.

Police determined that the individual in the photo wasn’t aware his photo had been shared accompanied by a threatening message, and that the weapon displayed in the photo was an airsoft rifle.

Red Deer RCMP worked closely with the Red Deer Public School District to determine that there was no real threat, and contacted Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools board as well.

Police officers are visiting Hunting Hills High School on Monday morning in order to reassure students and staff that the threat was a hoax.

“Perhaps the suspect thought he was playing a joke, but RCMP take public safety threats very seriously,” says Red Deer RCMP Cpl. Karyn Kay.

“Actions such as this can spread incredibly fast through social media and cause panic and trauma to hundreds of people. We’re glad we were able to determine very quickly there was no actual threat, but there are consequences under the Criminal Code for disseminating threats, whether they are real or not.”

The youth is facing a Criminal Code charge of False Information (Intent to Alarm). His name will cannot be released in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

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