RCMP have charged a youth 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.
The hoax threat was disseminated to approximately 300 students via social media shortly before 8:30 p.m. on Nov. 20th, and was 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 immediate investigation. 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 School Board as well; police officers will visit Hunting Hills High School this 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,” said Cpl. Karyn Kay of the Red Deer RCMP. “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 16-year-old male youth will face a Criminal Code charge of False Information (Intent to Alarm); his name will not be released in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act.