A social media post that alarmed Chilliwack parents and students earlier this week will not result in criminal charges, according to RCMP.
On Sunday, a youth posted a photo of a gun to Snapchat with text overtop saying: “Don’t go to school tomorrow.”
The image quickly spread through social media, identifying a possible poster and schools. Several people called the RCMP, who then began an investigation into the threatening post. Staff Sergeant Steve Vrolyk said that by Sunday evening, RCMP had communicated with the youth involved, the parents, and the school district. It was determined that the post did not equal a true threat, he told The Progress.
“This would not meet the threshold of a criminal charge,” he said on Monday afternoon. The first thing RCMP look at in cases like this are past history of crime, he said. And their goal with youth is to resolve issues with youth “as early as possible.”
“We as police use that discretion,” he said. “Court is a last resort. Kids are kids and they do make mistakes.”
He said in this case, the youth made a “poor choice.”
But the situation has become an opportunity to discuss social media dangers with kids. Vrolyk said they caution people to think about what they post.
“Things become widespread very quickly,” he said, as was the case on Sunday.
The Chilliwack School District sent out messages to parents at both Chilliwack middle and Chilliwack secondary schools on Monday, and despite the assurances, many students stayed at home for the day. Others reportedly arrived to hear the news and headed home. Both schools had police officers on site on Monday morning. Vrolyk said the decision to keep kids home from school should rest on each family.
“Parents have to judge for themselves, based on what they fear, and think, and understand,” he said.
Threats to schools, credible and not, are not that common locally, he said. With all that being said, the people who were afraid by the post had a right to be, and he commends those who spoke up to report it to RCMP and the school district.
“We are grateful that people did notice it and report it right away,” Vrolyk said. “Because unfortunately we live in a time when this does happen.”