A 13-year-old Maple Ridge boy has been arrested following an alleged assault at a Port Coquitlam school earlier this month.
According to a press release Tuesday from Coquitlam RCMP, the incident occurred on the grounds of Citadel middle shortly after school ended Jan. 10. Police said they believe that a verbal confrontation occurred between a group of four boys and one girl, and the girl responded with a "low level of physical force."
"At that time, a 13-year-old Maple Ridge boy is alleged to have used an inappropriate level of force that caused an injury to the girl," the statement said.
The boy, who police said does not have a history with police, has been accused of one count of assault causing bodily harm and another count of uttering threats. He has been released on a promise to appear in court and police said more charges could be coming for other parties involved.
News of the incident spread rapidly on social media in the days after the incident occurred and police are urging the public to avoid making "snap judgements" based on what they have seen online.
"It's completely understandable that people are reacting emotionally to this file, especially since children are involved," Coquitlam RCMP Cpl. Michael McLaughlin said. "But it's important that we conduct an impartial investigation. We ask that people do not make judgements based on social media posts."
McLaughlin added that evidence gathered so far does not align with some of the allegations made on Facebook.
"In this case, we have reviewed quite a lot already, including multiple witness statements and video of the incident itself," McLaughlin told The Tri-City News. "We can definitively say that some of the facts being spread cannot be confirmed by evidence and, in fact, the evidence we have contradicts what is being spread on social media."
In a Facebook post, someone claiming to be the mother of the girl involved in the alleged incident said police had asked her to "drop all charges on this boy who feels really bad for what he did." The Tri-City News has not been in direct contact with the mother and is not publishing any names that could identify the people involved in the incident.
But McLaughlin noted that unlike the American system, police in Canada do not have the ability to "drop" an investigation when they have evidence of wrongdoing.
He also would not rule out additional charges against the girl for her initial use of force during the incident.
"It is possible, he said.
Tuesday afternoon, School District 43 acknowledged it is aware of the incident and is cooperating with the RCMP but it won’t be providing any further information.
In an email to The Tri-City News, spokesperson Ken Hoff said the district “takes this matter very seriously and is addressing the situation.”
He added that because the incident involves an RCMP investigation and the privacy of young children, “the school district is unable to provide further comment."
Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West weighed-in on the incident in a series of Tweets.
"Everyone has the right to feel safe in our school and community," he said. "We all have a responsibility to demonstrate respect and inclusion and be good role models for our children."
Re: PoCo School— Brad West (@BradWestPoCo) January 21, 2020
I learned about this issue on social media like many of you and was deeply upset and disappointed that this happened in our community. I immediately reached out to the family to offer my assistance and will remain in contact with them.