RCMP officers work outside a crime scene in Penticton where four people were killed in a shooting spree that rocked the city Monday. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Bassett)

Schools, community centres wait behind closed doors during Penticton shootings

Safety procedures functioned smoothly during fatal shooting

There were no students at Queen’s Park Elementary during the April 15 shooting spree, but that didn’t mean there was no concern at the school.

It was a professional development day, which meant the students were off, but teachers and other staff were around.

READ MORE: Four dead, one in custody following Penticton shooting spree

“We have to make sure our staff are safe as well,” said Wendy Hyer, superintendent for the Okanagan Skaha School District (SD67).

Hyer explained the school went into “hold and secure” where staff and students are kept in the school, out of harm’s way.

“There’s no real threat to students, but we want to secure the building and keep everyone inside to keep them safe or keep them out of an area that the RCMP have asked they stay away from.

‘You hold the children, the staff in the school, secure the building and just keep a watchful eye.”

A more direct threat to students would have triggered a lockdown, where all the doors are locked, including classroom doors. That would be if someone was trying to get into the building with the intention of harming children.

There might not have been students at the elementary school, but joust across Power Street, the Penticton Community Centre was having a busy day.

“They (RCMP) called us and asked us to put the building on lockdown, which we did immediately,” said Bregje Kozak, recreation and culture director for the City of Penticton, who was in the community centre at the time.

She said the centre was well-staffed that day to take care of everything that was going on, which included a Kiwanis dance festival, a preschool group along with people making use of the pool and other facilities.

Kozak said it only took about five minutes to secure the multiple entrances and exits to the building.

“Between all of our facility stuff, recreation and aquatic staff that that weren’t on the deck still lifeguarding, we all just jumped into action,” said Kozak. “I was kind of directing, making sure that each exit was was an entrance point was locked and controlled.

That was before, I think, other people had even been notified of the incident.”

After that, Kozak said they kept people in the building until the all clear was given, except in a few circumstances, like parents coming to pick up their children from the preschool.

We had one of my staff, at that entrance point that knew the parents and allowed those people into the building to sit with the kids because these are three- and four-year-old children,” said Kozak. “But then we didn’t let them out again.”

Kozak said these type of incidents always raise the need for looking at city procedures.

Kozak said they didn’t announce the lockdown, because they didn’t want to alarm people using the pool and other facilities.

“We were letting people know as they were trying to leave the building. Shortly thereafter, people started seeing things on social media … and started figuring things out for themselves. But we didn’t want to warn the entire building because it was such a busy building yesterday.”

“Improvements are always being looked at. So this is something that we’re going to look at within the community centre and probably at a higher level within the organization as well to make sure that we are doing proper drills for these sorts of things.”

Hyer said schools in the district practice lockdown protocols, just like fire drills and other safety events. Besides lockdown and the hold and secure plans, they also have direct evacuation plans to get kids out in the case of a gas leak or other immediate dangers.


Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
Email me or message me on Facebook
Follow us on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Just Posted

Counsellors: Grief can come in many forms after Salmon Arm shooting

Community members urged to stay connected with others following trauma

Transportation ministry promises paving near Salmon Arm, Sicamous

Salmon Valley Road, Yankee Flats Road and Highway 1 near Sicamous on the resurfacing list

Salmon Arm RCMP reminds public to lock up valuables

Police say most theft from vehicle complaints involve cars left unlocked overnight

A campaign encourages families to put down their phones and talk this Mother’s Day

OpenTable’s #DiningMode gets Okanagan restaurants on board with a no phone policy while dining

Man caught with sawed-off shotgun in Salmon Arm enters guilty plea

A Feb. 2018 traffic stop led to the initial arrest of 34-year-old Wayne Blood

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

Okanagan experience for the Blue Man Group

The world tour of the Blue Man Group came to Penticton this week for two shows.

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Olympian Andi Naude retires from freestyle skiing

Penticton native skied in 62 World Cup single and dual moguls events in her career

Most Read