UBC Biological Sciences Building Under Police Lock Down
UPDATE 10: I've returned to the BioSci building this morning. Black electrical tape is on every door, assumably meant to indicate if a room had been entered after the SWAT team had finished searching it. I spoke with a number of people who were escorted out by the SWAT team yesterday afternoon. A few of them were told by SWAT members that someone had called a threat into campus security yesterday, indicating they intended to do harm to students (despite reports that an email had been received).
According to the Province:
RCMP Insp. Dave Walsh said last night a threat was received yesterday morning. He would not confirm that the threat was posed by a person with a gun, or who received the threat.
"The content of the threat was specific and contained a deadline," he said.
"It was more than generic threat.
"It drew us to that building at a certain time. It wasn't a kid prank. We didn't feel it was that type of complaint.
"We were confident not to treat it as a hoax, given shootings in North America."
Revealing Quote from RCMP Inspector:
Inspector Dave Walsh with the UBC Detachment defends the decision to say little to the staff and students. He says they don't know what might have happened if the suspect had known police were involved. “Keeping in mind that we don't know where the suspect is at this point in time. The suspect may well have been inside that school, or inside that building. For us to give an alert may have precipitated a suspect to do harm right at that time.
So, there was a person after all...somewhere.
From the Globe and Mail:
RCMP announced Wednesday night that they found nothing suspicious in the Biological Sciences Building at the University of British Columbia after locking down the facility Wednesday afternoon following a report of a threat to someone's personal safety[...]
[...]Twenty-eight members of the emergency response team and 20 support staff responded, including explosive disposal unit, police dog sniffers and fire and ambulance services. Police ruled out any link between the threat and animal rights.
Police would not say who received the threat or how it was communicated, saying releasing such information could jeopardize their investigation.
Scott Macrae, executive director of UBC public affairs, said the university took steps to respond after receiving a threat indicating criminal intentions. The RCMP were notified, assessed the threat and decided on the appropriate response, he said.
Total Speculation: Ok. The RCMP are being pretty tight lipped over the "incident" in the BioSci building at UBC. I trust the following accounts from witnesses I spoke with, or emails I received:
- SWAT members entered the building with guns drawn, and began surveying every room in the building
- Staff (faculty and grad students) of the building were notified via email from various sources (not a general UBC one) that a total lockdown was underway. We were then given a secret word not to share with anyone, that when heard, indicated it was safe to open our door to whomever spoke it
- Supposedly, the bomb squad was not actually deployed, since the bomb dogs were never let out of their cages
Does this sound like a simple, over exaggerated case? Or perhaps a phone or email threat? No. If it was a bomb threat, would we have been given orders to stay put (nevermind a secret word)? No. Did the RCMP haul away some kid in cuffs? Negative.
So what the hell happened? I have no idea.
UPDATE 9: UBC Bulletin Update
Wed. Jan. 30, 8:00 pm
A threat was received from an unknown person indicating the potential of harm to others earlier this afternoon at the Bio Sciences Building.
The RCMP was informed and took operational control to lock down, search and escort people out of the building.
During this period of lockdown, the campus community was cautioned to stay where they were located, to remain alert to their surroundings, and to report any suspicious circumstances to the RCMP at 911.
The Bio Sciences Building has now been cleared by the RCMP and turned back over to the University. While UBC is relieved the situation has been resolved, it emphasizes that issuing threats is a serious criminal offence and will lead to police investigation and criminal charges. Conviction for threatening serious bodily harm or death can lead to a prison sentence of up to five years.
UPDATE 8: Some MSM coverage can be found here:
- Canada.com - Lockdown ends at UBC building, people allowed to leave
- CTV.com - Police lift lockdown at UBC Bio-Science building
- CBC - Police evacuate UBC building after lockdown
Still no word on whether its safe to enter the building. Is anyone else there? Comment!
UPDATE 7: a blog reaction here.
UPDATE 6: I'm off campus now. According to a friend of mine who spoke with a reporter during the incident, the police never made use of their bomb sniffing dogs, thus indicating that it likely wasn't a bomb. Furthermore, HASMAT wasn't on site - so it wasn't a chemical spill.
According to a friend of mine who was in the office with me, the SWAT team was outside the BioSci building at least 15 mins before we received the lockdown notice in our emails (grad students and faculty, that is). Another friend of mine atempted to enter the building during the lockdown, only to be denied access. When asked why, she was told they were painting inside.
Another friend on the third floor had swat teams in their room, guns drawn (apparently..)
MSM correspdonents attempted to interview me as I left the building's main entrance, asking me ridiculous questions such as, "So how did you feel while you were in there? Were you scared, or was it like a fire drill?" I promptly shunned them away and kept walking.
Whether the assailant had a gun is unknown, despite what I was told by witnesses earlier.
UPDATE 5: They are evacuating the building. No one is allowed back in once they leave.
UPDATE 4: UBC Bulletin
Wed. Jan. 30, 3:23 pm
As announced previously,
there has been a police incident at the Bio Sciences Building, which
remains locked down. All classes in the Bio Sciences Building have now
been cancelled for the balance of the day.
With respect to the rest of the Point Grey campus, normal activities may now resume. We thank you for your cooperation.
Apparently the incident is over (see comment below), but we have not been let out of our offices or notified of anything
UPDATE 3: A local radio station has picked up on the incident here.
Anyone with plans to travel to UBC today is asked to avoid the area of the Biological Science Building.
Police have cordoned off the area surrounding the building and no one will be allowed to enter or exit the building until the threat is neutralized.
RCMP have increased police presence throughout the campus.
Students are asked to be vigilant, be aware of your surroundings and contact police if you notice anything suspicious.
Students in my office are currently playing pictionary...team 2 is winning.
UPDATE 2: Witnesses outside have called me (inside) with the folowing information: emergency response team is present, a swat team with complete tactical gear has entered the building (with fully automatic assault rifles), assailiant might have a gun.
Fully geared swat team members are checking every room in the building, according to students locked in the basement.
Vancouver - The biological sciences building is under lockdown as of ~30 minutes ago (1:59pm). Police officers have surrounded the building, and are at every exit. Yellow tape has been stretched across the doors. A helicopter can be heard overheard, circling the building.
According to an email released to faculty and graduate students working in the building, a suicidal student has been displaying threatening behaviour.[edit: I have come to determine that NOT EVERYONE in the building received this email, as it was an UNOFFICIAL one sent to a particular research group in the building from a member of our administrative team. I have since determined it is very likely to have been based in pure speculation]
UPDATE: From the UBC mainpage:
Last Updated: Wed. Jan. 30, 2:27 pm
There has been a police incident at the Bio Sciences Building, which is located at the intersection of Main Mall and University Boulevard at the University of British Columbia.
On the advice of the RCMP, the Bio Sciences Building has been locked down. Building occupants have been instructed to stay where they are, to secure the room in which they are located, and to await further instructions from the RCMP.
No person will be permitted to enter or leave the Bio Sciences Building without RCMP authorization.
Out of an abundance of caution, the RCMP is advising that others on campus stay where they are currently located. All campus occupants should be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious circumstances to the RCMP at 911. Persons who are not on campus are advised to remain away from the campus until further notice.
Further information, as it becomes available, will be posted at http://www.ubc.ca