A former student who was returning some books Wednesday at Sardis secondary school took out a toy pistol and shot three students in a classroom.
An 18-year-old Chilliwack man was taken into custody by police near the school after officers converged on the Stevenson Road site.
"Due to the seriousness of the complaint, all available officers were sent to the scene, as well as members of the Police Dog Services and Major Crimes Unit, in an effort to ensure the safety of the students and the public," says Const. Bert Paquet. "The quick response by the members achieved that goal."
School-based crisis management team was called into action and support services are in place at the school. No one was seriously injured in the assault, but three victims sustained minor red marks where the plastic pellets of the 'airsoft' pistol hit them, according to reports.
"We're confident it wasn't directed at the school itself," says assistant superintendent Bob Patterson about the acts of aggression. "At these times, our number one priority is to maintain a very safe environment for our students."
The school district "always errs on the side of caution" and RCMP were called in to deal with the situation, he says.
The Sardis secondary principal informed the student body of the basic facts of the shooting to avoid any misinformation going out, Patterson adds.
The school's crisis management team has been debriefing and meeting with district staff on an ongoing basis.
The young man who pulled out and discharged the replica pistol, "was not successful as a student and came back to turn in his books," according to the school district official. "That's the reason he was at Sardis secondary that day."
But the actual shooting incident was unrelated to those academic circumstances, Patterson says.
What's worrisome but necessary for administrators is contemplating worst-case scenarios, he says.
"When you sit down as a school principal you have to ask, 'What would have happened if the weapon was the real McCoy?' says the official.
"So we've walked through that scenario. Those are the worst-case scenarios and you're always looking and considering what the processes would be, where is there room for improvement, and most importantly how do we best to maintain a safe environment for the kids."
RCMP would also like to remind the public that "toy pistols" or other replicas and imitations of actual handguns "become a serious threat to the safety of our community when they are carried, transported or used in public," adds Const. Paquet.
In Canada, according to Wikipedia.com, for a gun to be classified as a firearm, the velocity must be high enough for a fired projectile to penetrate the eye of a pig. Using this test, Airsoft guns that fire under 407 ft/s (124 m/s) are not currently classified as firearms. However when an airsoft weapon is used to commit a crime it is treated as if it were a real gun.
The suspect was being held in custody at the Chilliwack detachment pending his first court appearance which was scheduled for Thursday. At press time the charges against the suspect, if any, were not known.
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