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article imageAlberta teen charged with threatening school shooting on Facebook

By Arthur Weinreb     Apr 7, 2013 in Crime
Red Deer - After the youth was arrested and charged, Alberta's Justice Minister said threats made on social media sites are treated just as seriously as if the threat was made in person.
Police in Calgary were contacted after a resident of that city noticed the Facebook posting in which the youth, 15, allegedly said he was going to carry out a shooting in a school. The police then contacted the Red Deer detachment of the RCMP. According to the RCMP, the teen expressed "his desire to commit a shooting at a local Red Deer high school."
The teen, who was known to police, was unarmed when taken into custody by the RCMP on Thursday. In addition to a charge of uttering death threats, he was charged with breach of probation and possession of a controlled substance. Under Canada's Youth Criminal Justice Act, his identity cannot be released.
RCMP Cpl. John Babbitt said, "We're showing by the charges that we laid that we did take this thing seriously right from the get go to make sure that if he was serious that we were going to address this as quickly as possible."
Jonathan Denis, Alberta's Minister of Justice, was asked about the incident and declined comment on this specific matter because it was before the courts. But after warning people to be careful about what they post on social media sites, Denis said, "The laws regarding threats and intimidation, any criminal activity of course, that still applies on Facebook. It doesn't matter what age you may be, the same basic rules should apply on Facebook."
The Superintendent of Red Deer Public Schools hopes the teen will get psychological help. The Superintendent said, "It appears there was no imminent danger and so the concern certainly is around what would make a young person make these types of threats against fellow students and staff members of our schools."
A day before the arrest was made, Leo Pare wrote in the Red Deer Advocate about a 12-year-old Manitoba girl who was convicted of two counts of uttering death threats against other girls. As part of the girl's probation, she is prohibited from using Facebook. Pare believes this is what is needed for young people who use social media sites to make threats.
The 15-year-old was remanded in custody and the investigation is continuing to determine how serious he was about carrying out the threat.
More about red deer high school, uttering death threats, Facebook threats, School shootings, alberta justice minister jonathan denis
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