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Gleneagle secondary school in Coquitlam evacuated over bomb threat

RCMP cordon off Gleneagle secondary in Coquitlam following a bomb threat Thursday morning. - Dan Ebenal/The Tri-City News
RCMP cordon off Gleneagle secondary in Coquitlam following a bomb threat Thursday morning.
— image credit: Dan Ebenal/The Tri-City News

Gleneagle secondary school in Coquitlam was evacuated Thursday morning after a man phoned in a bomb threat to the school's office.

The call came in just after 10:20 a.m., according to Coquitlam RCMP, and Mounties immediately evacuated the building, moving the 1,300 students to nearby Scott Creek middle school.

Cpl. Jamie Chung said police set up a command post on the property and a bomb-sniffing dog was used to search the school.

Paramedics, the fire department and Coquitlam city staff were also on hand to assist.

"We take these kinds of calls very seriously," Chung said. "We have the school [cordoned] off and our officers are on scene searching for anything suspicious."

Police did a room-by-room search of the building and the surrounding property with the assistance of the dog. Chung said yesterday afternoon it was too soon to say when the school would be able to re-open.

"It really depends on the layout," he said. "I don't know how long it is going to take."

No nearby roads were shut down and traffic was still able to move through the area, Chung added.

Twitter erupted over the course of the incident, with many students posting pictures of the evacuation and police cars.

In a School District 43 email fanout at 11:30 a.m., parents were told that teachers were taking thorough attendance of the school population after the evacuation. They also encouraged parents to follow @gleneaglesd43 on Twitter for more information.

People in the area also got in on the act on social media, with one person tweeting, "What's going on at Gleneagle High school in Coquitlam? Heavy police presence surrounding it and Helicopter overhead."

By 1:30 p.m., most students had been dismissed. They could only be released if a parent was present at the scene or had spoken to a staff member over the phone.

Night school classes at Gleneagle scheduled for Thursday night were moved to Riverside secondary school in Port Coquitlam.

The last time a threat was called in to Gleneagle was in 2004, when about a thousand students were kept in the school gym under police guard. In that case, police would not say what the nature of the call was, but indicated it was serious enough to prompt them to clear the building.

Lockdown procedures were implemented at Dr. Charles Best secondary last year after a 16-year-old who wasn't a student at the school was escorted off the property. At the time, there was an unconfirmed report that the youth had a gun.

Students were kept in their classrooms but later moved to a rallying point at nearby Coquitlam Alliance Church, where parents were asked to pick up their kids.

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

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