OPINION: There’s a man with a gun over there

Nick Seebruch
OPINION: There’s a man with a gun over there
A B3 .177 air rifle. Photo from Flickr

Last Tuesday the City of Cornwall was paralyzed after reports of a man with a rifle being sighted a block away from CCVS, Cornwall’s oldest high school.

The man was first sighted at 8:50 a.m., quickly, CCVS was under lockdown, soon after that all schools in Cornwall were under “hold and secure”. Later, the hospital was also locked down and by midday residents living between Second St. and Ninth St. and between Nick Kaneb Dr. and Cumberland Ave. were told to stay in their homes.

By 4:30 p.m., we had a clearer picture of what happened. According to police, the individual was later witnessed in they area of Marlborough and Fifth St., he then fired his weapon, a pellet gun, at a building in that area. Police did not find the individual, but they did find several pellets in the area where he was last sighted.

Kids had to be picked up at school by their parents after buses were cancelled. In total, the ordeal lasted eight hours and involved 40 police officers.

After all of this information came to light, some on social media on our Facebook page scoffed that such a comprehensive police response was deployed over a pellet gun and that a large part of the city was frozen over what is commonly seen as a toy.

I think that the police acted properly and incidents like these always need to be taken seriously.

In June 2014 in Moncton, New Brunswick, reports came in of a man walking around with a rifle. That incident tragically ended with the deaths of four RCMP officers.

No matter the inconvenience, it could never be argued that the children of Cornwall were not well protected by the actions of the police and the school boards. There were some things that could have been communicated more effectively however.

The Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB) schools in Cornwall were all communicating effectively over Facebook with regular updates as to the situation at their schools. Eventually, the UCDSB took over the communications with the public by making regular tweets over their social media.

Confusion did arise however around the busing situation at the end of the school day. Rose des Vents and l’Héritage did not specify until late in the day, around 3:30 p.m. that buses would not be picking up their students and that parents had to come and collect their kids.

One parent even wrote on our social media that our statement about buses being cancelled was incorrect because buses had arrived at Rose des Vents at the end of the day.

I’m not saying this was anyone in particular’s fault, in fact, I think that this time, it was a good thing that this happened. Thankfully, lock downs and hold and secure procedures are almost never enacted, which means that there are bound to be some kinks when they are put into practice, so it is good that they happened in a situation where the relative danger was minimal.

This was a practical learning experience for our police, school boards and the community at large.

What do you think about the City’s reaction to the pellet gun incident? Email me your opinion in a Letter to the Editor at nicholas.seebruch@tc.tc

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