A 17-year-old student was convicted of uttering threats for leaving a “chilling and specific” note threatening to shoot staff and students at a Red Deer high school.
The boy, who cannot be named under provisions of the Youth Justice Act, was found guilty in Red Deer youth court on Thursday by provincial court Judge Jim Mitchell.
The student left a note written in pencil on a desk threatening to shoot staff and students at Hunting Hills High School at 3 p.m. on April 15, 2014, just prior to the start of the Easter long weekend. The note was written at some point during the day, but indicated a specific time for the shooting to take place.
Andre Phypers, the student’s lawyer, argued that the charge was lacking because the threat was not directed at a specific group.
Crown prosecutor Jordan Petty argued the staff and students are a discernible group.
Mitchell agreed with Petty.
It was also argued that the threat was never intended to be fulfilled. However, Mitchell said that was irrelevant as the threat still caused concern and a heightened police presence.
Red Deer RCMP responded to the scene. Uniformed officers patrolled the halls and evacuated the school, not forcing people out but denying students and staff re-entry once they had left. After the school was emptied, police performed an extensive search but found no weapons.
Mitchell called the threat “chilling and specific” while delivering his decision.
He acknowledged that in the student’s statement to police he said he didn’t know why he left the note, but the judge didn’t accept that as a valid reason.
The student also indicated in the statement that he would never do anything like that. Mitchell said that was irrelevant to the charge.
In his ruling, Mitchell said the student had ample opportunity to remove the threat as it was writing in pencil.
Mitchell acknowledged that the student had been going through an emotionally rough period dealing with relationships and substance abuse. At the time, the boy had spoken with all the school counsellors and was actively seeking outside counselling. He was also taking drug and alcohol counselling.
Mitchell said it was clear the student needed someone to talk to and he had many troubles on his mind.
A pre-sentence report was ordered for the student by Mitchell and sentencing was adjourned to Dec. 4.