A 19-year-old Sherwood Park male was taken into custody without incident late Tuesday morning after a threat of violence against MacEwan University was posted to a social media platform.
The threat, posted by an anonymous person who self-identifies as a MacEwan student on the app Chillabit (formerly Chitter), said “One upvote and I’ll shoot up my school.”
A short while after, the original poster (OP) wrote “Don’t go to MacEwan tomorrow.”
Edmonton Police Service were notified of the threat of violence early this morning, and responded with additional security and personnel around City Centre Campus and the Centre for the Arts and Communications.
Posts in the MacEwan book exchange Facebook group and other MacEwan communication channels were garnering a lot of attention online hours before the university responded.
MacEwan sent out its first email at a quarter past nine, detailing the situation and that officials were determining “the seriousness of the threat.” Some students reported their professors had cancelled classes while others hadn’t heard anything.
The police presence stayed on campus until a second release about the arrest came out. EPS confirmed the arrest of a man at a Sherwood Park residence, and added that charges were pending against the man.
Both MacEwan and EPS said there is no further threat to MacEwan at this time.
Some students were upset at the lack of information the university provided. “I was pretty cheesed that I wasn’t notified before showing up this morning,” wrote Erin Rae on Facebook. “If I knew of the threat I would not have shown up whatsoever. I found out through other students and the police presence. I don’t care the level of seriousness, we should’ve been told via email as early as the school knew of the threat.”
“I showed up to class not knowing what was going on!” Alexandra Johnston added on the same Facebook post. “My teacher came in and advised us she would be keeping the door locked and that everyone should move to the back … that was enough for me I grabbed my stuff and left.”
But in the release, MacEwan maintained its priority for students’ safety, and insisted there was not enough information to issue a lockdown or to close the school for the day. “The university takes all threats of this nature seriously, and responds accordingly to maintain a safe environment for everyone.”