Garcia: No need for panic over school threats

Friday, May 24, 2019 - 09:15

Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter An­tho­ny Gar­cia said pranksters will not be al­lowed to dis­rupt the ad­min­is­tra­tion of CSEC and CAPE ex­am­i­na­tions. Stricter se­cu­ri­ty mea­sures have been in­tro­duced fol­low­ing email mes­sages sent out overnight about bombs be­ing plant­ed at sev­er­al sec­ondary schools across the coun­try.

Speak­ing from his of­fice at the Ed­u­ca­tion Tow­er, Port-of-Spain, ear­li­er to­day Gar­cia as­sured stu­dents and par­ents that there is noth­ing to pan­ic about.

He said: “Very ear­ly this morn­ing I re­ceived a call from one of the prin­ci­pals of a school stat­ing that she re­ceived an email threat yes­ter­day evening, say­ing that a bomb would be placed in the school bag of one of the stu­dents and if a cer­tain sum of mon­ey was not paid by 10 am to­day, then the bomb would be det­o­nat­ed.

“As a re­sult, there would chaos in schools.”

While he did not iden­ti­fy the prin­ci­pal he spoke with, Gar­cia said Cy­ber Crime and Ca­nine Units were alert­ed and of­fi­cers with snif­fer dogs be­gan vis­it­ing schools from as ear­ly as 6 am to­day to so de­tailed search­es of premis­es, stu­dents and ar­riv­ing school of­fi­cials.

In a re­lease this morn­ing, the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry iden­ti­fied two of the schools as St. Joseph’s Con­vent, Port-of-Spain and St. Joseph’s Con­vent, St. Joseph.

There was an un­con­firmed re­port that a sim­i­lar threat had been re­ceived by of­fi­cials at St. George’s Col­lege, Barataria.

How­ev­er, this was de­bunked by Gar­cia who said: “While we felt this was an iso­lat­ed in­ci­dent, we learnt fur­ther that very many oth­er schools have been af­fect­ed and the prin­ci­pals, in ac­cor­dance with the pro­ce­dures that have been de­vel­oped, have con­tact­ed the po­lice and they are do­ing search­es to en­sure there is no de­vice that can cause any dis­rup­tion of ex­ams.

“It is my feel­ing that this had been de­lib­er­ate­ly done to af­fect the smooth run­ning of the ex­ams. It is on­ly some­body with a de­ranged mind would think of such an ac­tion and that has to be con­demned.”

The min­is­ter warned per­pe­tra­tors of this crime would feel the full brunt of the law when­ev­er they are caught. He ap­pealed to par­ents and stu­dents to re­main calm.

“Ex­am­i­na­tions are be­ing writ­ten as nor­mal so they have not suc­ceed­ed with their de­vi­ous plan,” he said.

The fa­ther of a stu­dent at­tend­ing St. George’s Col­lege con­firmed he was asked to pick up his daugh­ter around 10 am, while the moth­er of a child at­tend­ing a Catholic pri­ma­ry school in Port-of-Spain con­firmed a sim­i­lar move by school au­thor­i­ties. The two said they were told ac­tion was tak­en in the in­ter­est of the chil­dren’s safe­ty.

Prin­ci­pal at St. Joseph’s Con­vent, Port-of-Spain. An­na Pounder told par­ents and guardians: “Act­ing on in­for­ma­tion re­ceived, the school au­thor­i­ties con­tact­ed the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties and passed it on to them. The Po­lice vis­it­ed the school yes­ter­day and this morn­ing of­fi­cers of the Spe­cial Branch and Ca­nine Unit did a thor­ough sweep of every area. The school has been de­clared safe and we are con­tin­u­ing with class and ex­ams.”

The email threat sent to prin­ci­pals stat­ed:

“This mes­sage is to EVERY­ONE. On Fri­day 24th May 2019 we are send­ing a stu­dent with a bomb. The bomb will go off at 10 am if you do not send $100,000 TTD to pay­[email protected]­ If you do not send the mon­ey! We will blow up the de­vice. If you try to call the po­lice WE WILL BLOWUP THE DE­VICE ON SPOT. ANY at­tempt at DE­FUS­ING it your­self will cause it to ex­plode!”

 - by Anna-Lisa Paul