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Hoax 911 calls about school shooting lead to Nanaimo arrest

Nanaimo RCMP have arrested a man who is accused of making multiple hoax calls to 911 about a school shooting that did not happen. Police said around 1 p.m.
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RCMP

Nanaimo RCMP have arrested a man who is accused of making multiple hoax calls to 911 about a school shooting that did not happen.

Police said around 1 p.m. Thursday, a person called 911 numerous times, saying shots were being fired at a Nanaimo school and claiming there were multiple casualties. The caller did not specify a school, providing only a five-block radius in south Nanaimo, police said.

Officers identified two schools within the area, Fairview Elementary and Nanaimo and District Secondary School, and contacted school staff.

The high school was immediately placed in a lockdown. Students at Fairview had already been dismissed for the day due to parent-teacher interviews. Neither school reported any suspicious activity.

Once officers determined the calls were a hoax, they used cellphone technology and police databases to trace the location of the phone and identify the its owner and their vehicles.

About an hour after the calls came in, officers located a 34-year-old suspect in his vehicle parked on Howard Avenue. The phone used to make the calls was in the vehicle, police said.

The man was arrested Friday for public mischief and breaching existing conditions. He remains in custody with charges pending.

Const. Gary O’Brien called the incident “disturbing,” and credited the North Island Operations Communications Centre for the quick retrieval of information to identify the suspect.