RCMP have made an arrest in connection with threats at the University of B.C. that paralyzed part of the campus for two days.
A 19-year-old UBC student has been charged with uttering threats and mischief after police officers swarmed the campus when the threats were made on two Wednesdays in January and February. Hwi Lee was arrested Friday, and has since been released on conditions he not go near UBC, surrender his passport and not possess firearms.
“I know this arrest will bring relief to a great number of concerned people both directly and indirectly impacted by the threats,” said RCMP assistant commissioner Peter German. Police wouldn’t reveal what kind of threats were made, but said they were directed at the Biological Sciences Building on the campus.
“Threats for whatever reason are not the way to resolve problems,” German told reporters Monday. “The university has a very robust counselling service in place and there are lots of other social services agencies.”
RCMP officers from about a dozen different specialized divisions helped investigate the threats, including the Behaviour Sciences Group Threat Assessment Teams.
“Whether or not the suspect in this case actually intended to harm anyone at UBC does not minimize the severity of this crime,” German said. “These threats were treated as real since the first one was made on January 30 at great costs and concern for UBC students and staff.” While criminal charges proceed against Lee he’ll also have to go through the university’s own internal discipline process, which could result in penalties and even expulsion.
Brian Sullivan, the UBC vice-president of students, said in a statement that it was a relief for the community to know that a suspect has been identified and criminal charges have been laid. “Great distress has been reported by students, faculty and staff who were in the Biological Sciences Building. … A university is by its very nature a place of openness and community,” Sullivan said. “Vigorous and civil discussion of ideas is essential and depends absolutely on an atmosphere of safety and security.”
German said the message to others is that threats don’t work. “Certainly in the university context, there are lots of counselling services available. Make use of them and don’t resort to threats against others.”
-with a report from CP