Police find fake handgun used in incident that led to school lockdown

The weapon was found Saturday at Robert Bateman secondary

Police located this replica handgun in Robert Bateman secondary on Saturday

Police located this replica handgun in Robert Bateman secondary on Saturday

Police have recovered a replica handgun that had been seen during the incident last week that led to a three-hour lockdown at Robert Bateman secondary in Abbotsford.

Const. Ian MacDonald said major crime detectives located the hidden weapon on Saturday in a public area of the school. He wouldn’t say exactly where it was found, but said it was not located in a classroom.

He said the high-velocity BB gun is believed to have been brought into the school by a group of teen boys whose behaviour had prompted a 911 call on Thursday at about 12:15 p.m.

The call was made by the resident of a home in the 34000 block of Immel Street who said a group of four youths had tried to engage him in an altercation at the residence and that one of them appeared to have a gun.

The caller told police that the suspects had left in the direction of the nearby Robert Bateman high school. A plainclothes officer in the area had also seen the group and believed that one of the youths was in possession of a handgun.

Before the four teens could be intercepted, they arrived at the high school and were reported to be running into the school.

That school, the adjacent Clayburn middle school and nearby Sandy Hill elementary were placed on full lockdown, while other schools in the area including Sandy Hill, Margaret Stenersen and Abbotsford Christian were put on “hold in place” status, meaning the exterior doors were locked but regular operations continued inside.

Numerous police vehicles and about 30 officers, including members of the emergency response team, converged on the area and began searching the inside and exterior of the high school.

MacDonald said police used an “abundance of caution” because they did not know whether the gun in question was real or fake.

The four 17-year-old suspects were found inside the school and all were taken into custody at about 2:30 p.m. The school remained on lockdown until 3:20 p.m. while police searched for a possible weapon and additional evidence.

Evidence to support that the weapon may have been a BB gun was located near one of the suspects, but the actual weapon was not found until Saturday.

MacDonald said the investigation is continuing, and charges still under consideration include uttering threats and possessing a weapon.