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Threatening graffiti raises concerns at Burnaby North

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Death threats written on a washroom wall had some students at Burnaby North secondary staying home Monday.

The writing appeared on Dec. 3 and Burnaby RCMP were advised the next day.

"We investigated, we identified who had written the messages," said Burnaby RCMP Sgt. Jolaine Percival, head of its Burnaby school liaison section.

"The person is getting help and we've provided resources for them too."

On Monday, there was a visible police presence at Burnaby North and a lot of students were absent.

District superintendent Kevin Kaardal said in the intervening days rumours spread about the incident "and most of them [were] not accurate."

The issue was raised with students and staff and then last Friday, the district sent home a letter to North parents explaining the situation and indicating there would be an increased focus on safety at the school Monday.

"The anxiety was sort of developing as rumours spread about the graffiti," said Kaardal, who estimated attendance was down at the school by 15 to 20 per cent.

"When parents are advised of anything there's concerns and they might possibly keep their kids out of school but there was nothing that was to be worried about," noted Percival.

The graffiti was found in a boys' washroom, although she stressed that's not necessarily indicative of the gender of the student involved.

"There was writing throughout the school also … The writing was common and consistent with being the same person."

As to the nature of the threats, Percival said it didn't target any particular group.

"It wasn't discriminative in any sense. It was more just threats and that was it."

The student was directing the threats more at himself or herself, Percival said. "So anytime that's involved we take it seriously."

People who do such things "are the people that are really screaming out for help."

The graffiti has since been cleaned up.

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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