RCMP seize guns found on school grounds

PORT McNEILL-Two firearms located in locked storage area at NISS; cops say no direct threat to students or staff.

PORT McNEILL—RCMP seized a pair of firearms allegedly stored by youth in a locked storage area at North Island Secondary School Saturday, but said there is no evidence indicating they were going to be used on school grounds.

Officers were led to the storage area Apr. 26 following an investigation into reports that a group of local youth were illegally in possession of several firearms. It is believed that the youth responsible for placing these firearms in the caged area were doing so in an attempt to conceal them from discovery. Following this initial seizure, additional firearms were located in a wooded area near Sointula.

“Based on the information we have to date, there is no indication that these weapons were intended to be used to harm anyone at the school”, said Sgt. Craig Blanchard, Detachment Commander for the Port McNeill RCMP. “While it was very concerning to find them on school grounds, all indications are that the youth saw the caged area as a concealed place, away from their homes, to keep these guns hidden.”

The announcement resulted in a spate of calls and media inquiries to the NISS and to School District 85, which is working closely with the RCMP investigation. While the school was searched with the assistance of a police dog, the seizure otherwise caused no disruption to school operations. No other firearms were found in or around the school.

“This was a weekend (seizure), and an outside storage area was used,” SD85 Superintendent of Schools Scott Benwell said. “It appears our outside compound was used as a place of storage, and it doesn’t appear to go any further than that.”

Investigators continue their work to determine the origin of the firearms, and charge those responsible, Blanchard said. Investigators are examining the possibility that these guns originated from residential break and enters, and were going to be traded for illegal drugs, or sold for cash.

No charges have been laid.

“Please be assured that the school district is fully cooperating with the RCMP,” Benwell said. “Once the RCMP completes its investigation, the school will look into its findings as they apply under the code of conduct.”

Anyone with information on this case is urged to contact the Port McNeill RCMP at 250-956-4441, or anonymously through Crimestoppers at I-800-222-TIPS (8477).