Tiny and beautiful Prince Edward Island off the east coast of Canada is known for its peaceful, friendly atmosphere. Tourists come from all over the world to experience life at a slower speed and get a taste of the safety and neighborliness that used to be common. Prince Edward Island is old-fashioned, and the police in Canada’s smallest province rarely have to deal with any kind of violent crime.
All that changed today.
Prince Edward Island schools are under an emergency evacuation order. The small island, which is also Canada’s smallest province just to the northeast of Maine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, had to deal with every parent’s worst nightmare early today when police received a bomb threat targeting schools. One teacher tweeted about going from a fun birthday celebration to the shock of having to evacuate because of a threat.
The New York Daily News reports that the Canada’s national law enforcement agency, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, were on the scene right away and helped make the bomb evacuation process really efficient. Spokesman Sgt. Kevin Baillie told reporters that when police on the island got the notice of the possible bomb “that was initially delivered to RCMP in Ottawa,” they were able to notify all the Prince Edward Island schools “within ten minutes.”
“The threatening message said that bombs were placed in several P.E.I. schools and would be detonated the same day, but did not specify which ones.”
The police force said “dozens of schools on Prince Edward Island in Canada were evacuated Wednesday due to a faxed bomb threat.” There were 19,000 students at 60 schools across the island who had to be quickly moved to a safe place where parents could come get them after cops sent out a province-wide alert about the bomb threat.
“The threat came via fax, claiming that bombs would be detonated after being placed at schools.”
CTV News reports that according to the RCMP, “officers attended each school on the island, but could not confirm that every school was actually searched for explosives.” They didn’t dispatch sniffer dogs or bomb disposal units, so school staff will have to be extra vigilant in watching for anything suspicious in their buildings.
“We don’t know who is responsible for these threats.”
The University of Prince Edward Island took some precautions and also closed for the day, since the Prince Edward Island bomb threat didn’t specify whether universities were included as well as schools.
UPDATE: The University of Prince Edward Island is closing for the day effective immediately.— University of PEI (@UPEI) September 21, 2016
The community college on Prince Edward Island, Holland College, also made the decision to evacuate after Summerside police notified college administration about the threat.
Sandy MacDonald, VP of Holland College, says college notified by Summerside police about bomb threat to #PEI school. Evacuated as precaution— Teresa Wright (@GuardianTeresa) September 21, 2016
There were three higher education schools in neighboring Nova Scotia that received bomb threats as well. Cape Breton University and Nova Scotia Community College found the notice of possible bombs on their property “just before 8 a.m. local time,” according to local law enforcement. There’s no word yet on whether the Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia bomb threats came from the same person or group, and no one has claimed responsibility for the threats.
Even some retail outlets in Prince Edward Island decided to be cautious and put safety before profits.
Charlottetown Walmart evacuated after bomb scare: Hundreds of people have been evacuated from Walmart in Char... https://t.co/DLvPaiXpM7— The Guardian (@PEIGuardian) August 2, 2016
Canada’s Prince Edward islanders are traumatized and terrified by this previously unthought-of threat to their children’s safety in school. Social media on the east coast is on fire with comments about the bomb threat. Although police say all the schools were completely evacuated, some islanders say that’s not true.
Just found out from my mom that the kids were kept in the school. What if there was a bomb? Not impressed with handling of this. #PEI— Josh Lewis (@jlewisPEI) September 21, 2016
Others were simply in shock that quiet little Prince Edward Island could have something like this happen at all.
quiet little pei bloody BOMB scare can you imagine https://t.co/oUnKwczxJS— jacjett (@jacjett) September 21, 2016
Canada’s charismatic young prime minister, Justin Trudeau, appeared on the national broadcaster, CBC, shortly after the schools’ bomb threat was dealt with. He updated citizens on the situation on Prince Edward Island. Trudeau said that “nothing suspicious has been found, he said, and no suspects linked to the threat have been identified.”
[Featured Image by PetrovVadim/Thinkstock]