The K-9 unit was called out to Bayside Middle School after the school was placed on lockdown for a police incident March 1, 2018. (Hugo Wong/News Staff)

Big response to Bayside lockdown

The Mar. 1 lockdown at École Bayside Middle School prompted the largest emergency response ever for School District 63. Sgt. Paul Brailey of Central Saanich Police said while there have been emergency calls to schools before, “this is probably the most substantial one we’ve dealt with over the years.”

RELATED: Lockdown at Bayside Middle School

Brailey said a number of students had seen a possibly masked person in the bushes around Bayside that they believed had a firearm. He said a number of students provided similar, detailed descriptions, which was credible enough to warrant a response, but acknowledged that the potential weapon could have been a paintball gun or something similar. Police arrived around 11:15 a.m. No suspect was located after a four-hour search involving a K-9 unit and several police departments.

Brailey said standard protocol for any school lockdown is to secure the perimeter, then call the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT), which is comprised of officers from across the CRD. The Sidney/North Saanich RCMP assisted in containing the area.

“The main thing is making sure the school’s protected; secondary is the search of the area once we know the school is protected and no one can get in or out,” said Brailey.

Brailey said schools typically do a lockdown drill once a year, where doors are locked, students will go under desks or into closets, blinds are shut, lights are turned off and the school goes silent.

While movement and noise is not allowed during a lockdown, a degree of movement is allowed during a “hold and secure” where students can move between classrooms or the washroom. There was a short period of time where the lockdown was about to be downgraded to a hold and secure, but ultimately did not occur.

There was a debrief for Bayside parents at 5 p.m., which Brailey was briefed on but did not attend. He said parents were concerned about the potentially traumatic experience for all children, and especially those with special needs, and that children were prevented from using the washroom during the lockdown. While Brailey was at the scene with other officers, “a lot of parents came up to us and said, ‘We’re glad that this is the response. We’re glad these are all taken seriously.”

“Threats are one thing, but when a number of students who appeared credible when you spoke to them, with their description and detail, you’ve got to believe the kids,” he added.

SD63 assistant superintendent Scott Stinson, who attended along with superintendent Dave Eberwein, said in an interview that another concern was how SD63 communicated with parents as the situation unfolded. Tweets were issued by Central Saanich Police, updates were posted on the Bayside website and local media outlets were reporting from the scene. “Mostly they were very appreciative that we respond how we do and how we took it seriously,” said Stinson.

Stinson said the school was about to move to hold and secure at one point, but ultimately they were told to remain in lockdown until they students we released to parents a few minutes after 3:30 p.m. Stinson said police are in charge when a lockdown is in effect, so it is up to them to downgrade or not.

Police were there this morning, and counsellors are on site today for staff and students who found yesterday particularly challenging.

Terry Martens, whose daughter goes to Bayside, was outside waiting like many other parents. He was asleep having come home from a graveyard shift at work when he received texts and calls from other concerned parents. His daughter was able to send a text out around 11:50 a.m. that the school was in lockdown.

“Kids aren’t supposed to have their phones in classes so I guess she must have had hers,” he said.

When asked if he was tired of waiting, he said, “I’m just kind of anxious to see my daughter.”

There will be a debrief for emergency responders next week.

 

The Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team (GVERT) arrive in a Terradyne Ghurka, an armoured vehicle purchased in Oct. 2017. (Hugo Wong/News Staff)

Parents waited outside to hear when the Bayside lockdown would be lifted. They were eventually allowed to park away from the school and pick up their children on foot. (Hugo Wong/News Staff)

Just Posted

‘Two ducks, five bucks’ for annual rubber duckie race in Bowker Creek

Oak Bay High Environment Club host event Saturday in celebration of vital Oak Bay creek

Esquimalt council green-lights first mass-timber building on Vancouver Island

Mayor appreciates 12-storey structure’s proximity to naval base, graving dock and Seaspan

Victoria beaches 1,560 pounds lighter after Surfrider cleanup

200 people came out to clean the beach on Earth Day

Sooke makes call for regional fire dispatch

Some municipalities decide to take service off-Island

Greater Victoria School District adopts new dress code policy

Two years in the making, SD61 moves to more inclusionary guidelines

Parents call for change to health laws after Oak Bay teen’s death

Accidental overdose has Elliot Eurchuk’s parents seeking change to B.C Infants Act

B.C.’s living wage increase curbed due to MSP cuts, child care subsidy: report

Living wage varies between $16.51 in north central B.C. to $20.91 in Metro Vancouver

Amalgamation Yes hosting citizen’s assembly info meeting Wednesday at Vic High

Mayors of Victoria and Saanich will be on hand to give updates to residents

Doctor sees healing power in psychedelic plant as Peru investigates death of B.C. man

Peru’s attorney general has ordered the arrest of two suspects in the killing of 41-year-old Sebastian Woodroffe

Toronto police officer ‘gave himself the space and time’ in van attack

Footage shows officer standing up, turning off his siren and talking clearly to the suspect

$1.18 to $1.58 a litre: Are you paying the most for gas in B.C.?

Gas prices across B.C. vary, with lowest in Vernon and highest in – you guessed it – Metro Vancouver

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of April 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Inquest set 10 years after B.C. woman shot, left to die

Lisa Dudley, and her partner, Guthrie McKay were shot in their Mission home in September 2008

B.C. hockey team to retire Humboldt Bronco victim’s number

BCHL’s Surrey Eagles to retire Jaxon Joseph’s No. 10 in light of bus tragedy

Most Read