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Scare at six Belleville schools prompted by “inaccurate” info: police

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A situation Friday that led to “hold and secure” conditions at six Belleville schools was a false alarm sparked by misinformation from young students, police say.

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“There’s absolutely nothing to it,” Belleville Police Staff Sgt. Mike Kiley told The Intelligencer in a telephone interview.

He said it all began with “some information that was provided to teachers that was not correct.

“Given the current climate it precipitated a bit of a reaction, but there’s nothing to this,” Kiley said.

The students were of elementary-school age, he said.

He also said it was not a prank but added he could not elaborate.

The scare came after a May 24 mass shooting in Uvalde, Tex., when an 18-year-old man shot and 19 students, two teachers and his grandmother and wounded others before being shot to death by police were killed.

Officers received a call at 11:24 am from an east-end school regarding “a safety concern,” Kiley wrote via e-mail.

Officers then recommended schools activate the hold-and-secure conditions pending further investigation by police and school officials.

All six schools were in the city’s east end: Harry J. Clarke Public School, Queen Elizabeth Public School, Eastside Secondary School, Nicholson Catholic College, neighborhood St. Michael Catholic School, and St. Joseph Catholic School.

“After investigation it was determined there were no safety concerns and the ‘hold and secure’ was lifted,” Kiley added in a news release.

“There are no ongoing safety risks to students at the area schools or the public,” he wrote.

“It’s being dealt with at the school level,” Kiley added in the interview.

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Local school board officials said they did not have any further information on that aspect.

“Hold and secure” conditions occur when there is a potential dangerous situation outside a school. The condition is a medium-level alert between sheltering in place and the most serious condition of lockdown.

Kerry Donnell, the communications and privacy manager for the Hastings and Prince Edward District School board, said it requires all students and staff to remain in the school.

“The exterior doors are locked and normal school activities continue inside,” she said.

“The lights are on… blinds are not drawn.

“No one can go in or out.”

The police recommendation to lift the hold condition came at 12:53 pm, said Kelly Taylor, a communications officer for the Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School board. “Everybody’s safe,” Donnell said in a telephone interview minutes after the condition ended.

Some parents who had waited out the restrictions by standing outside Harry J. Clarke Public School were reunited with their children after the boards lifted the hold.

  • With files from Derek Baldwin and Alex Filipe

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