Back to business after multiple bomb scares empty classrooms

via The Chronicle Herald

It was a day of mayhem for the East Coast, as several schools and streets in Nova Scotia and P.E.I. were closed Wednesday after receiving unfounded bomb threats.

All Nova Scotia Community College campuses, schools in Sydney and streets in Halifax were locked down in the morning while police investigated and searched for suspicious packages.

It all began when two NSCC campuses in Halifax and Sydney closed at 8 a.m. Wednesday after bomb threats.

Fast forward a couple hours, and more reports of suspicious packages and a weapon sighting surfaced.

By noon, P.E.I. had announced it was closing all island schools and evacuating 19,000 students after police received a fax from someone threatening to detonate bombs at several schools.

Winnipeg schools and one school in the U.S. were also affected by similar threats.

So far, police say all threats have been unfounded.

Here’s what happened, and where.

In Halifax

By about 9:30 a.m., Halifax Regional Police had determined there was no threat after investigating the area of the old Halifax Central Library on Spring Garden Road.

Responding officers shut down vehicle and pedestrian traffic on Spring Garden and surrounding streets at about 8 a.m. for the investigation.

Maritime Hobbies employee Greg Hatt, who works across the street from the old Central Library, said there were plenty of police and vehicles at the scene.

“There was a bomb disposal guy in front of the library,” he said.

“I was out having a smoke and they told me to stay in the building . . . we have a situation.”

He said police cleared the area around 9:30 a.m. and photos posted to social media showed a large blue duffel bag.

It was found to contain trash.

At One Government Place, an employee who had heard about the NSCC bomb threat reported a suspicious object and the Barrington entrance was closed as a precaution.

The IT campus in North End Halifax was evacuated in the morning and police arrived to investigate.

NSCC spokesman Billy Comeau said police and campus security decided to evacuate both campuses in Halifax and Sydney.

Comeau wasn’t able to confirm how the threats were received.

No other campuses were apparently targeted.

In Cape Breton

Police determined that there was no threat to public safety after investigating a bomb threat at a Sydney community college campus.

At 7:50 a.m. Wednesday, police said they were on scene at the NSCC Marconi Campus on Grand Lake Road in Sydney after reports of a threat. NSCC spokesman Billy Comeau confirmed that the Marconi campus was closed for the day.

Cape Breton University also closed in response to the threats.

Spokeswoman Lenore Parsley said no one was allowed to enter the campus and classes were shut down.

Police dogs were brought in as the investigation continued.

Sydney Academy entered a hold-and-secure status for a different reason Wednesday morning.

Cape Breton Regional Police responded to the school at roughly 8:30 a.m. after a report of a potential weapons complaint.

Police say one male was taken into custody but later released.

The school returned to normal classes at about 11 a.m.

The Sydney Academy principal told the Chronicle Herald that “it was a minor secure-and-hold” and students were briefly held in classrooms.

Police say this hold-and-secure was not connected to the threats on the NSCC campus.

Lockdowns in Cape Breton

In P.E.I.

Officials on Prince Edward Island scrambled to evacuate more than 19,000 students from every school in the province Wednesday after police received a fax from someone threatening to detonate bombs at several schools.

RCMP spokesman Sgt. Kevin Baillie said the fax was sent to Ottawa RCMP Wednesday morning, and that schools were notified within 10 minutes.

“There’s been no threat found. Everybody is safe,” Baillie told reporters at a noon news conference, adding that the threat suggested bombs had been planted at several schools and would be set off Wednesday.

The RCMP said schools activated emergency evacuation plans soon after they became aware of the evolving situation. However, bomb personnel and canine units were not sent to the schools and police were asking teachers to be on the lookout for anything suspicious in the facilities.

“Officers have gone to every school and consulted with staff, but we’re asking the staff to check the schools and see if they note anything out of place or suspicious,” he said.

Police in Winnipeg said a similar fax was received by the Winnipeg School Division, although no schools were evacuated.

Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Cst. Rob Carver said the division received a fax at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday that contained a threat to all of the division’s 78 schools.

Original publish date: Sept. 21, 2016

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