Two teenagers are facing charges for alleged threats online at Harry Ainlay, McNally and J. Percy Page high schools.
The teenagers are under 18 and cannot be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Police said the first was linked to threats made against Harry Ainlay and the others connected to threats made against McNally and J. Percy Paige.
“Both young people charged were authors of an online discussion that was inciting violence,” EPS School Resource Officer Sgt. Emuel Chan told Global News.
The teens were arrested Wednesday after investigations that included the Edmonton Police Service Cyber Crimes Investigation Detail and the School Resource Officer Unit.
Chan said police have “zero tolerance” for online threats and “take this very seriously.”
The major social media platform used in these cases was Instagram, Chan said. He added it’s not just the authors of the discussions that could be held responsible.
“We charged the authors of these online forums but those jumping on … adding suggestions… Those aren’t tolerated as well and that could lead to police involvement.”
“We don’t want to create fear here,” Chan said. “This is currently isolated to these high schools. The true purpose of schools is a positive learning environment … building your future … It is not to incite violence. It won’t be tolerated.
He credited the school resource workers with helping in this investigation and encouraged students to also report any unusual or inappropriate online behaviour.
“Come forward with your information and tell us if something doesn’t feel right,” Chan said, “if you see something online that shouldn’t’ be online.”
Edmonton Public Schools said the two young people charged have been suspended.
On Wednesday, Harry Ainlay High School was locked down after an online threat made against an administrative staff member.
Students were linking the lock down to a bizarre Instagram account on which images of clowns and veiled threats like “you’ll be the first to die” and “killing is an act of mercy” were posted Wednesday. The user of the account goes by the name “The Arbiter” and claims to attend Harry Ainlay.
However, on Thursday, police called the reports involving clowns “unfounded” and did not link it to the lock down.
Earlier this week, four people were arrested in Fort McMurray after RCMP investigated a threat made on Instagram involving students.
On Wednesday morning, Wood Buffalo RCMP said a female youth was responsible for sending a kidnapping threat on social media but charges hadn’t been laid. (bw/twd/with files from Global News)