Renfrew – It was far from a typical school day at Renfrew Collegiate Institute on Tuesday morning as students arriving at the school were met by uniformed Ontario Provincial Police officers at the main entrance in light of some graffiti found on a wall the previous day with the message “shootup June 7.”
Senior staff at the Renfrew County District School Board (RCDSB) deemed the message serious enough to alert parents with children attending the school. As a result, some parents opted to keep their children home while approximately 10 OPP officers were present both inside and outside the school.
As students arrived around 8 a.m., two marked OPP cruisers were parked outside the main entrance as officers observed students entering the school. In addition, there were an additional two cruisers parked at the front and back of the building on Bonnechere and Queen Streets with three unmarked OPP vehicles parked at in the rear and front parking lots.
Some officers were dispatched from the Renfrew OPP Detachment along with officers from other detachments in the area.
Constable Tina Hunt with the Renfrew OPP Detachment said the police presence would remain in effect for the day and said there was a possibility there may be a further police presence throughout the week if required.
“We are taking the potential threat seriously and officers are conducting an investigation into the origin of the graffiti and the investigation itself is ongoing,” she said.
Hannah MacMillan, communications officer for the RCDSB, said RCI personnel were doing their best to keep the regular school routine as normal as possible given the circumstances.
“I have spoken with the RCI principal (Ann Gagan) and she said the students were going about the school day as well as could be expected,” she said. “There was no rigid protocol in place and students entered the building from various entrances in addition to the main doors where OPP officers were present.
“We don’t know if the police will be onsite throughout the week and it will be based on their investigation. We can confirm the message was placed on a wall inside the school and the investigation is ongoing. We will be updating parents and guardians throughout the day on our Messenger and various social media platforms of any further developments.”
It is unknown how many students remained home for the day in light of the potential threat.
This comes at a time of heightened tension due to a string of shootings at schools across the United States including Uvalde, Texas on May 24 when the perpetrator did make his intentions public on social media shortly before entering the Robb Elementary School killing 19 children and two teachers.
Bruce McIntyre, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader