RCMP in Manitoba are getting help from both Homeland Security and INTERPOL to try and track down the caller who has been making threats towards schools in Steinbach.
According to police, the first threat was made on January 18th to Clearspring Middle School when a caller advised that a student would be bringing a gun to school the following day. Steinbach RCMP were advised and looked into this threat. The call was believed to have originated in the United States.
Since then, additional threats have been made toward Clearspring Middle School and Steinbach Regional Secondary School (SRSS). Homeland Security was able to track down the phone number to a residence in Menasha, Wisconsin. The Menasha Police Department was contacted and followed up with this tip and has ruled out the homeowners associated with this number. Police say the caller would have used a false number when making the call over the Internet.
Manitoba RCMP Sergeant Paul Manaigre says the investigation is ongoing. Currently, they are focusing their attention on tracking down where these calls are coming from.
"That's a difficult process at this point," he admits. "We've got experts on it and hopefully we're going to get some results soon and move forward with the investigation."
Manaigre says as part of their investigation, police did a sweep of SRSS on Monday. The school was closed to students that day because of the frigid weather and staff was advised to exit the building prior to the sweep. Manaigre says one of the answering machine messages stated that there might be a bomb inside SRSS. RCMP did a search of that school on Monday and found no bomb.
"There is no evidence right now to suggest anyone local is planning on planting devices or coming to school with a gun," he says.
Manaigre says it is safe to assume that the call is in fact coming from the United States. However, he notes until they are able to confirm the exact location, they cannot rule out the threat may actually be coming from the Steinbach area. He notes that whoever is making that call is probably following the news and getting gratification over the attention these threats are receiving.
"They are putting fear into parents, students, teachers and they are causing a lot of resources to be deployed for areas that shouldn't have to be done right now," he points out.
Meanwhile, his message to students, staff and parents is to carry on as if none of this is happening.
"We are doing our work in the background," he assures. "If there are any concerns at any of these schools, the staff and students will not be allowed in."
Therefore, he says if students and staff are allowed inside the school, that means authorities have come to the conclusion that it is safe to be there.