News

Williams Lake secondary student bear sprayed at school

A Williams Lake Secondary student was sprayed in the face with bear spray outside the school Thursday.

A suspect, not from the school, arrived during lunch hour with a can of bear spray and was walking outside of the lower doors on the side of the school facing Comer Street.

A surveillance video shows that the student who was sprayed had walked outside to talk with the suspect, and was standing about 10 feet from the door when the suspect sprayed him, turned around and walked away.

Within seconds, vice-principal Curt Levens arrived on the scene and went outside to talk with the student.

The two walked back inside and while the student stayed with the hall monitor, staff members checked to make sure there weren’t any other kids hanging around outside with bear spray.

Once staff returned inside, they told the victim he needed to go and rinse his eyes, so his girlfriend accompanied him. While they were en route to the washroom two other students decided to go in and help.

One parent expressed concerns about how staff handled the incident.

Rosemarie Nali called the Tribune Thursday, concerned that her daughter and two other students went into the washroom with the victim when he went to wash his face and eyes.

Nali says the victim should have been accompanied by an adult and that no students should have been near him, especially after the area was evacuated.

“It should have been adults. That’s their job, that’s what they’re getting paid for. We’re trusting our kids in their hands,” Nali says, adding she doesn’t feel her daughter was safe.

Principal Silvia Dubray, however, says she felt the incident was handled well.

Staff immediately evacuated the area, directing the students to go to other areas in the school because they were not certain whether there were other kids outside with bear spray.

Staff also opened the back doors and the gym doors to air out the area because the bear spray was filtering into the lower level of the school and causing some students to cough.

Dubray says the students were all co-operative.

“The kids were awesome yesterday,” Dubray said Friday. “They actually cleared out and we put teachers at both ends, because our school is in a circle in that area.”

Once the student had washed his face and eyes, he went home, changed because there was bear spray on his clothes, and returned to attend his final class for the day.

Williams Lake RCMP responded to a call about the incident just before 1 p.m. and shortly afterwards located and arrested the suspect who was later released to appear in Williams Lake court on April 25.

The school said the police will have access to surveillance camera footage of the entire bear-spraying incident.

The school has had surveillance cameras installed in six locations around the school for five years.

The incident occurred the day after administration held a safety assembly where they reminded students that, for safety reasons, they can’t wear ball caps or hoodies at school because it makes it difficult to identify them in person and on security camera footage.

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