RCMP: Student charged in Mount Sentinel incident acted alone

Students were sent home early on Friday and this weekend's graduation ceremonies have been postponed.

Mount Sentinel secondary in South Slocan was evacuated this afternoon and graduation ceremonies have been postponed due to an unspecified threat.

RCMP officers who took an 18-year-old Mount Sentinel student into custody last week following “serious threats” chose not to share news of the arrest until they learned whether the suspect was acting alone.

On Monday afternoon authorities confirmed they believe the teen did not have accomplices.

“We had to determine how many suspects were involved, whether this was an isolated incident and how many institutions could be a potential target,” Cpl. Dave Tyreman told the Star.

“If we come out too early and say we have one individual in custody, and there’s three more accomplices, from an investigative standpoint it’s going to force their hand to act on on what they’re doing and might actually speed up the process.”

So in partnership with SD8, the RCMP remained tight-lipped over the weekend after cancelling the graduation ceremonies out of an abundance of caution. This was following the initial arrest, which was made after school authorities detained the student and contacted police.

According to a news release, the arrest went without incident.

“Our primary focus was to determine the credibility of the information, identifying anyone that should be spoken with immediately and determining what further actions should be taken,” Tyreman wrote.

“We appreciate that there have been a number of rumours and speculation relating to the investigation, but our lack of public confirmation is not reflective of the investigative efforts taken.”

Tyreman said the suspect, whose name hasn’t been released, appeared in Castlegar court today on multiple charges. A bail hearing will continue Wednesday morning in Nelson. He did not have weapons on him during the arrest. No weapons were recovered from the school either.

The school remained closed Monday. It is expected to re-open to staff only on Tuesday.

“Staff will meet together, and focus their efforts on planning for graduation and the completion of the year,” superintendent Jeff Jones wrote. However, a field trip to the Silverwood theme park has been cancelled.

The school will be open to students on Wednesday, the last day of school, with dismissal at noon. Students who attend can clean out their lockers and say their farewells.

Jones said the school administration will work with the grad planning committee on an event.

No other schools were affected. Brent Kennedy elementary, which is just down the road from Mount Sentinel, remained open because “the nature of the threat we received did not include other schools”.

Most of the community first learned of the event from a letter posted on the school’s website by Jones, who wrote they’d organized early buses for the students and evacuated them by 2:45 p.m. on Friday.

After “extensive consultation” with provincial violence threat risk assessment experts, a district trauma response team, police and Ministry of Children and Family Development, Jones postponed grad ceremonies planned for Friday and Saturday.

“Knowing that a lot of preparation and excitement goes into graduation, we recognize this will be a great disappointment to students and families,” he wrote.

During the weekend Jones asked parents to be “extra vigilant” with any “grad activities, parties or events where students may congregate this weekend.”

Tyreman said a number of people and institutions worked together during this crisis, and he applauded administrators for taking action.

“There are so many things going on in the world right now, that if something looks suspicious you should trust your instinct and call the police,” he said.

“If it’s nothing, great. If it’s something then great, we got called. It never hurts, especially if you’re in a school situation, to advise a teacher or principal or whoever.”

He said the police rely on tips.

“We rely heavily on individuals in our community to keep track of each other and let us know if something’s wrong. It never hurts to pick up the phone.”