Wilfrid Laurier University has once again been the target of an online threat. </p>
The school was notified Oct. 22 of a Snapchat post featuring a male holding a firearm, his face covered with a smiley emoji and text reading “Tell Isis to find me in the science buildin”.
This recent post comes one week after the school was placed under lockdown for almost six hours because of another post made online. A 22-year-old man from London, U.K. had threatened WLU’s science building using the online forum 4chan. In that incident, U.K. resident Daniel Ransen was charged Oct. 23 with malicious communication.
This time the school chose not to go under lockdown, after it was determined that the Snapchat poster was not dangerous. According to Mike Haffner, staff sergeant at Waterloo Regional Police Services and executive officer to the chief, their investigation revealed that the firearm was a replica and after an examination of the WLU campus, determined that there was no threat. He does suspect that the poster is someone familiar with the region. The investigation is ongoing and no charges have been laid.
“It’s difficult in our response because we can never be wrong. With each set of circumstances, we have to sort of make immediate, quick, informative decisions, always keeping in mind the safety of the staff, the faculty, the students, and the community,” said Haffner.
With both incidents, police decisions have received mixed responses, with some feeling that not enough precautions were taken while others feeling that it was unnecessary to go into lockdown.
“Our response to whatever threat it may be has to be calculated, has to be appropriate,” said Haffner. “Primarily because if we fluff it off to say, ‘you know what, it’s not credible, there’s nothing to this,’ then in five hours we find out that maybe it was.” Haffner explained that situations like this often have no right answer.
While Haffner was unable to speak on why someone might make these sorts of threats, he did mention that those who do it seem to be unaware of the financial and emotional consequences their actions can have.
There are similarities between this threat and the one from last week, however Haffner could not confirm whether this attack was inspired by the U.K. threat.
“It is coincidental that it was a Friday, one week after the lockdown previously, [and] included the comments of the science building which were indicative of the gentleman from the U.K. and his posting as well,” said Haffner.