A youth was arrested late Tuesday evening in connection with a threat made to students at H.D. Stafford Middle School that led to a tense code red lockdown of the school earlier that day.
Langley RCMP and the school’s principal, Shawn Davids, confirmed that the young man was arrested and released with strict conditions to stay away from Stafford and not be in communication with anyone at the Langley City school.
Out of an abundance of caution, there will be a police presence at the school for the remainder of the week, said Davids in a letter posted on the school’s website. Langley RCMP said officers will be at the school to offer support and answer any questions the students and parents may have.
The lockdown began at 2:40 p.m. on Tuesday, after threats were made to the school through social media.
“The student making the threats is not a student of H.D. Stafford, so it was a generalized threat to the students of H.D. Stafford, not one particular student,” said Sgt. Alexandra Mulvihill of the Langley RCMP, at the time of the lockdown.
“We were obviously called, went in, (and) could not locate the male in question in the school or around the school. And so, just for the utmost of precaution, we did initiate a code red.”
Students were released, one classroom at a time.
Dozens of students and concerned parents were standing in front of the school, waiting for the remaining students to be released. Grade Crescent was blocked off for some time.
Parents and students questioned why they were allowed to gather in front of the school if the suspect was still at large.
“The threat didn’t involve a firearm, so that was where we decided to allow parents to get their children. We knew kids were texting their parents about what was going on and many parents wanted to be there to get there kids so we allowed that to happen. If we were to stop parents, it could have incited a lot of fear and worry,” she said.
One mother questions the RCMP’s statement that it was a general threat to the entire school population.
She claims the teen threatened to kill her daughter and then himself.
Police confirm that initially the threat was a case of self harm, but it became “harm not to one specific person at H.D. Stafford,” said Mulvihill. The threat came through on a group chat.
But the mother said the way the situation was handled with respect to her daughter is troubling.
She claims the girl was held at the school for some time, without being allowed to contact her.
“My daughter is bawling, asking for me and I should have been contacted right away,” she said.
The mother heard through the media Wednesday, not from police, that the youth had been found and arrested, then released.
“I’m not worried about him coming here. I’m worried for him. Is he getting the help he desperately needs?” she asks.
Police said the decision to release the young offender wasn’t made lightly.
“We have a safety plan in place. We are not releasing him without follow up. The young offender has no criminal history and any time we are dealing with youth we do not want to keep them in jail,” said Mulvihill.
“Also, his parents were a part of the process. They believe they are able to keep in check with this youth. We will also be involved. This youth will now be involved with our youth-at-risk team.”
Langley RCMP released a further statement on Wednesday, saying they do not believe there is any threat to students. Investigators are encouraging parents to talk to their children regarding social media and its use.
In cases of crimes that take place, like threats, over social media, it is very hard to investigate, Mulvihill said.
“These investigations are lengthy because we have to get warrants to seize the various smart devices used. And depending on the settings on certain social media sites like SnapChat, kids use this medium so that what they put on there can disappear,” she said.