Bear Spray Incident at Columneetza Middle School Prompts Evacuation

A student sprayed bear spray at Columneetza Middle School, causing minor eye irritation and prompting evacuation. The suspect was apprehended, and emergency services responded to ensure everyone's safety.

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Nitish Verma
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Bear Spray Incident at Columneetza Middle School Prompts Evacuation

Bear Spray Incident at Columneetza Middle School Prompts Evacuation

On Friday, May 10, 2024, a bear spray incident at Columneetza Middle School in Williams Lake, BC, led to the evacuation of students and staff. The Williams Lake RCMP responded to a report at 10:16 a.m. of a student spraying another student with bear spray.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the potential risks and consequences of violent behavior in schools, emphasizing the need for effective safety measures and protocols to prevent such incidents. It also underscores the importance of addressing the root causes ofsuch behavior to ensure a safe learning environment for all students.

The bear spray entered the school's ventilation system, causing minor eye irritation to several people. As a precautionary measure, the school was evacuated, and the nearby elementary school was placed on a "hold and secure" status. Emergency Health Services attended to provide medical treatment to those affected.

The suspect youth fled the area following the incident but was later located and apprehended by the RCMP. Inspector Rob Lake of the Williams Lake RCMP detachment stated, "We believe this to be a targeted incident and there is no further risk to the public." The "hold and secure" status at the elementary school was lifted after the youth's arrest.

The Williams Lake Fire Department assisted in venting the school to remove the bear spray from the building. Apart from the minor eye irritation, no other injuries were reported. Buses ran early to accommodate students who needed to leave, and a space with uncompromised air quality was made available for those who could not return home.

The bear spray incident at Columneetza Middle School disrupted the school day and caused concern for students, staff, and parents. The swift response from the RCMP, fire department, and emergency health services ensured the safety of all involved and minimized the impact of the incident. The investigation into the targeted attack is ongoing.