Threats of school shootings at the University of Winnipeg

Saturday, September 22, 2007

A message warning of a shooting was found on a men's washroom wall, across from the library, on the first floor of the University of Winnipeg's Centennial Hall, in Manitoba, Canada.

The message said: I'm going to "shoot up this place on Sept. 26." According to the Globe and Mail, the exact wording of the message is disputed.

It was reported to campus security by a student just two days ago on Wednesday morning. Police examined the scene and checked other washrooms in the facility for related threats, but found none. The washroom is closed and police are guarding it. Several school entrances were guarded off on Thursday.

As a precaution, the University has tightened up security, and an investigation with the Major Crimes Unit is already in the works. They are still trying to determine if this is a prank by one of the students, or if this is an actual threat.

"The university has taken the responsible and appropriate approach by disclosing to our community a warning message found written on a wall of one of our washroom facilities," said President of the school and Vice-Chancellor Lloyd Axworthy, who was on a trip to Chicago when he heard of the news.

"In these circumstances you're never sure," he said. "The graffiti was on the wall. There have been similar kinds of pranks in the past at the University of Winnipeg. There have been bomb threats, and we have taken appropriate action over the years, but you can never rely on that," Axworthy added. "In today's heightened and somewhat dangerous circumstances, and the society we're in, we can't take any chances."

The University's press release (see sources section) says frightened students and instructors can stay home on Wednesday. "The University respects those who make that decision and places no judgment on those who make that decision." Students can arrange to finish their missed exams on a separate date. The press release asks students to "notify your professor by the end of day Monday, September 24 (if possible) if you do not intend to attend classes on Wednesday." Faculty members, instructors, and staff are asked to notify the school on Monday if they do not wish to come on Wednesday.

Security are making random checks in students' backpacks, bags, and other items.

While this may be graffiti the University is treating this message seriously, is taking the responsible approach by disclosing it to the community, and has increased its security measures. The University will share further information with the community as soon as it becomes available...

Updates will be provided via email and will be available on the University web site's homepage. Much like airports have had to change their security measures due to changing times, so do universities. And universities, like airports and other public institutions, must still continue to function.

– Press release from the University of Winnipeg issued on September 21, 2007 at 5:00pm.

Police are preparing plans to take instant action on the day of the threatened shooting.

The last major shooting at a Canadian school was at Dawson College in Montreal, Quebec last year.

Less than 10,000 people are enrolled at the University of Winnipeg.

Anyone with information should immediately call the tip line at (1)-(204)-258-2930 or the university's 24-hour security office hotline at (1)-(204)-786-9235, or email Students are being asked to report any suspicious behaviour between other students.

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