UPDATE: Sheshatshiu Innu School closed after Facebook post

Derek Montague
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School officials took no chances in light of Moncton shootings

Only two vehicles were parked outside Sheshatshiu Innu School during the afternoon of June 9. The school’s administrators decided to close down for half a day, after a perceived threat was posted on Facebook.

A public posting on the Sheshatshiu flea market Facebook page caused the Sheshatshiu Innu School to close for the afternoon of June 9.

Earlier that morning a man posted a message stating: “U guys are coming (to) hell with me ,, everyone of youse.”

The male’s Facebook profile picture showed a man holding a rifle, wearing sunglasses and a stocking cap.

As soon as word got out about the post, Sheshatshiu Innu School administrators decided to take special precautions, just in case it was a threat towards the community.

“The first thing we did, when we heard about all this, was we called the RCMP, we called our board office and we decided to lock all doors,” said Sheshatshiu Innu School principal, Clarence Davis.” We held a short staff meeting to explain to all staff members the nature of the threat.”

“If there was a threat of this kind and, if all the people of Sheshatshiu were going to be targeted, we thought a public building would be a logical place to start. And we are probably the most public building in the community.”

Davis said he and other school officials heard about the Facebook post early in the school day, but decided it would be unwise to send the children home immediately.

“If there was a threat, we felt that the safest place for them was in a locked school. So we decided to keep them there until the morning was out,” said Davis.

“We have a lockdown procedure in the school, and we just had all of our staff members adhere to that protocol: close your blinds, stay away from windows. We have a code that we use on our PA system if there is breach in security.”

Later that morning, the RCMP determined that there was no threat towards the school or the community. According to RCMP spokesperson, Cpl. Rick Mills, the individual who made the Facebook post lives in Natuashish.

Still, given the circumstances, Davis and others felt it would be best to close Sheshatshiu Innu School for the afternoon.

“Before lunch hour, we had already been informed by the RCMP that they found the suspect, so the threat was over,” said Davis.

“But we just felt that … in today’s world rumors fly and  (through) social media it seemed like everyone was aware of what was going on. We decided, just to keep things calm, we’d sent everybody home for the afternoon.”

Davis admits the recent tragedy in Moncton, where three RCMP officers were shot and killed and two more wounded, played a big role in the school’s precautions.

“Everybody’s worried about the copycat syndrome,” said Davis. “Maybe without Moncton, this would have been nothing, we don’t know. But we weren’t about to take chances with it.”

Despite all the concern that was caused by the Facebook post, Cpl. Rick Mills said the RCMP does not consider it a direct threat towards anyone in Sheshatshiu and no arrest will be made.

“What I will say is, there was no specific or direct threat towards the school or anybody in Sheshatshiu,” said Mills.

“The message was very generic and the picture was an individual standing with a gun.”

Classes resumed as normal at the Sheshatshiu Innu School on the morning of June 10.

derek.montague@thelabradorian.ca

Organizations: Sheshatshiu Innu School, RCMP

Geographic location: Moncton, Natuashish

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