The Superintendent for Division Scolaire Franco-Manitoban (DSFM) has shed more light on Thursday's bomb threat within the division.
Alain Laberge says the first threat came at approximately one o'clock. It was made towards the daycare at St. Joachim School in La Broquerie. The threat came in the form of an email and Laberge says it was discovered in the daycare's junk mail. Translated to English, the email said the following:
bombs ready to explode in several places, 2 million euros to be paid into the SGMB Morocco account Mourid mohamed amine MOROCCO 04200275452631I!!. I am waiting for an answer. To give you the location of 5 bombs once the entire amount is in the account I will give you the location of the other bombs. you have already evacuated several schools and you have failed to find the bombs. I am settled in your country and you will not find me or it will be too late!!!. so there's no point in alerting the police, otherwise prepare coffins.
Laberge says immediately upon discovering the threatening email, staff called RCMP, which is their procedure in these types of incidents.
"I always tell the principals, phone the police first," explains Laberge. "There is not much I can do from Lorette."
After the RCMP were called, the school notified Laberge, who then spoke with the principal, vice principal and the team at the division office. Laberge says school staff was told to follow the instructions of police, who take charge of the situation when these types of incidents occur.
Laberge says about 15 to 20 minutes later, the division's office received a phone call from one of their schools in Winnipeg, informing them that their daycare had received the exact same email in their junk mail. Laberge then phoned Winnipeg Police, which dispatched its K9 Unit to the school.
Shortly after, the daycare at their school in St. Jean also discovered the same email, and RCMP was sent to investigate. The division soon learned that a total of eight daycares within their division had received the same threatening email, including two of their schools that were closed Thursday due to inclement weather. Laberge says as more and more of these emails started to be discovered, police made the decision that not all schools and daycares needed to be evacuated.
Though the emails might all have been received at the same time, Laberge says they were not all immediately noticed by staff. First of all, he says they all showed up as junk mail, which is not necessarily a folder that is frequently checked. But also, Laberge says their daycare staff are busy working with children and not sitting in front of their computers. In some instances, the emails were only noticed at the end of the day.
Shortly after the threat was discovered, a message was sent to parents at each school. The school sends the exact same message automatically by telephone to parents at the exact same time. For example, Laberge notes in La Broquerie, parents were informed that a threat had been received, that students were safe inside the arena, and that additional information would be coming. He notes it may have been 20 to 30 minutes from the time they received the threat to when they notified parents. Laberge says he too sent a letter to parents, reassuring them that he would provide more information at the end of the day after speaking with RCMP and Winnipeg Police.
Looking back on Thursday, Laberge says communication is very important. He notes the division's policy is that before any information is sent to parents, they first call police to determine how serious the threat is. He notes there are always changes that can be made to their protocols, and anytime an incident like this happens, they will sit down to discuss things they could have done better.
"Could we have done a better job of communicating with the schools? Probably," says Laberge. "But to be honest it went very fast, and I think we did good, and I'm really pleased with the principals because they are the first line of defense."
Meanwhile, all schools and daycares were back open Friday morning, at the recommendation of police.
RCMP Sergeant Paul Manaigre says police saw similar reports less than two weeks ago in Ontario where Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to various schools with a similar type of complaint.
He notes that based on the totality of circumstances, RCMP no longer believe there to be a threat to any of the locations, but will continue to investigate to identify the source of the email.
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