As rare as school violence is in Canada, four students were shot to death in Saskatchewan last month, and six students and three teachers sustained non-serious injuries from a stabbing yesterday at a high school near Toronto, Ontario, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reports.
A ninth-grade girl, 14, was taken into custody in connection with the incident, according to a report in the Toronto Globe and Mail. News reports said she was tackled by staff members within minutes of allegedly stabbing classmates at Dunbarton High School in Pickering.
Her name has not been released, and we don’t expect to publish it in any event, due to Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act.
The suspect may have posted messages to Tumblr, writing about severe depression. The poster seems to be set on stabbing as a way of ending her own life. “What I’d REALLY love is to die,” the post said. “But Canada apparently doesn’t have death sentences. … Maybe I can get the police to shoot and kill me at the school when they show up. That would be nice.”
Another message referred to the poster’s disappointment at not being able to get her hands on a gun: “I’d actually like to have a gun to shoot. It would be easier to kill people with. But I guess a knife will do.”
The girl who was arrested is facing 15 charges in all, including six counts of assault causing bodily harm, seven counts of assault with a weapon, and possession of dangerous weapons. She is scheduled to appear in youth court on March 1.
Police said the suspect waved a knife in each hand at several locations in the school before being subdued by teachers.
“I just ran for my life,” The Guardian quoted one girl who encountered the suspect in a hallway as saying. “I just can’t believe it happened. She almost got me.”
“I heard the teachers say, ‘Clear the halls,’ so I started to run outside informing people that there’s a student with a knife, you need to get to safety,” the paper quoted another 16-year-old student as saying in a text message, sent as he sat in a locked classroom inside the school.
The high school is one of about a dozen regular high schools within the Durham District School Board (DDSB), which also includes a little more than a hundred primary (K-8) schools and a handful of collegiate vocational institutes, serving grades 9 through 12.
Today, a day after the stabbings, Randy Tennant, Dunbarton’s principal, posted the following note to the school’s home page:
We are writing to share the details of the incident that happened in our school Tuesday, February 23, 2016. With many media reports of the incident we want to reassure the school community that we share and appreciate their concern for the safety and well-being of our students and staff involved. We want to ensure our school community has accurate information about what took place today and how the school responded.
At approximately 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, February 23, 2016, a student entered the school with two knives and was immediately detected by other students who began to alert others. We commend our students for their courage and leadership.
In keeping with the Safe Schools Protocol, police were contacted at 8:32 a.m. and the school went into a full lockdown by 8:35 a.m. The student was arrested by Durham Regional Police immediately after. Unfortunately, there were multiple non-life threatening injuries to six students and three staff members. A few of the victims were transported to [a local] hospital and were released, while others were treated at school for minor injuries.
Our thoughts go out to all the students and staff and first responders involved.
In keeping with the Safe Schools Protocol, the school remained in a lockdown as a precautionary measure while the police conducted their investigation. At 10:15 a.m., the lockdown was lifted one class at a time to allow police and DDSB staff to ensure the well-being of students and staff and to identify any possible witnesses. The release of students was gradual and was completed by 12:30 p.m.
Families were notified of the event and its developments by automatic messages, social media, websites and information shared to area news media.
The school closed for the remainder of the day and reopened Wednesday, February 24, 2016. Support and counselling is available to students and staff and will be available again for students and staff in the Guidance office. We encourage any student or staff member to visit the Guidance office should they wish to speak with a counsellor or to access the resources available.
On behalf of our school community, I want to thank Durham Regional Police and all first responders for their assistance and for their concern for our students and staff.
Staff and students of Dunbarton High School demonstrated great courage and cooperation during a very difficult time. We will continue to work together as a school community.