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Why are bomb threats made? A look at 5 cases in Halifax

A schizophrenic man wanting mental-health treatment; a young woman evading her stalker: these are just some of the reasons people made bomb threats in the Halifax area, a CBC News investigation has found. From Jan. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2016, Halifax Regional Police investigated 71 bomb threats, but only laid charges in five cases, or seven per cent. That only five cases resulted in charges doesn’t surprise Halifax Regional Police Insp. Reid McCoombs.

“These types of investigations in general tend to have a fairly low solvability rate just due to the nature of how they come in,” he said.

Even with tracing technology for threats made via phone, email or social media, it can be difficult to finger who did it, McCoombs said. In the cases that resulted in charges, the accused individuals generally had a connection to the institutions for which bomb threats were made toward.

Many officers respond

For police, responding to bomb threats is “fairly resource-heavy,” said McCoombs. The response could include patrol officers, a canine unit, an explosives demolition team, forensics people and traffic officers.

“It takes them away from other places, but it certainly wouldn’t inhibit us in responding to an emergency call somewhere else,” said McCoombs.

“Does it mean that some of the lower-priority calls may wait a little longer for a response? Absolutely.”

5 cases result in charges

Using court recordings and information from police files and the Crown, CBC News pieced together the stories behind the five cases that led to charges:

Aug. 10, 2010

On Aug. 10, 2010, Eastern College in downtown Halifax received a bomb threat from a female at 8:30 a.m. Police arrived minutes later and the school was evacuated. The culprit was determined to be A.M., 20, a student at the school. A.M. saw her ex-boyfriend who had been stalking her outside of the school that day. She panicked and went to Park Lane Mall and made a bomb threat by using a pay phone. A.M. was given a conditional discharge, which included one year of probation and 10 hours of community service.

Aug. 12, 2010

On Aug. 12, 2010, 911 received a call at around 7 p.m. reporting a bomb in a briefcase at the Wedgewood Motel in Bedford was going to blow up. Police allege A.D., 52, was the culprit and he was arrested just after 7:30 p.m. on Robie Street in Halifax. Earlier that evening, at around 5:30 p.m., the motel had placed an unwanted-person call involving A.D. At trial, a 12-month peace bond was agreed to, which is essentially an agreement to keep the peace and remain on good behaviour, follow the law and abide by any terms or conditions. It is not an admission of guilt. A.D. was fined $100 and was ordered to stay away from the Wedgewood Motel.

April 12, 2012

On April 12, 2012, a staffer set off a panic alarm at Capital Health’s community mental-health clinic at 7071 Bayers Rd. in Halifax because J.A., 37, was in his office and said he had a knife. J.A. locked the door and stood in front of it, which prevented the worker from leaving although J.A. never told him he wasn’t allowed to leave. J.A. told the worker he was doing it because he wanted treatment for his schizophrenia. Police took J.A. to the hospital. He was later found to be criminally responsible and was charged with having a knife and with unlawful confinement.

Four days later, J.A. was at home and phoned in a bomb threat to 911 stating that he had a bomb in his residence. Police went there and J.A. was taken to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax for treatment. While there, he placed a call to 911 from a telephone for patients in the waiting room and said there was a bomb in the parkade. J.A. was charged with public mischief and false messages. For the four offences, J.A. was given a suspended sentence and 18 months of probation. Conditions included to keep the peace and be of good behaviour, report to mental health authorities and follow assessments or treatments recommended by them, abstain from possessing or consuming alcohol and illegal drugs, and to live with his mother at her Halifax-area home.

Oct. 9, 2014

The Crown alleged that on Oct. 9, 2014, while riding on the route 60 bus in Dartmouth, 37-year-old T.N. warned two security guards on the bus that he was going to blow up the nearby Nova Scotia Hospital.

“You need to warn your friends, I’m going to blow up the hospital at nine o’clock. My message is going to be heard and they’re going to comply with my requests,” he allegedly said. At trial, T.N. said the guards misheard him. He said he told them he was planning a peaceful protest. The defence rested its case on May 5, 2016, with a decision to be released by the judge on July 28, 2016. T.N. died on June 23 due to complications from kidney disease. The charges were stayed.

Sept. 10, 2015

Between Aug. 16 and Sept. 11, 2015, K.P., 58, made multiple threats, including death threats, toward security personnel who worked at the Dartmouth Shopping Centre at 118 Wyse Road. Police allege that on Sept. 10 K.P. phoned in a bomb threat to the business that provided security services for the mall, Atlantic Private Protection Service. In the agreed statement of facts read aloud at trial, no bomb threat was mentioned. K.P. was given five months of house arrest, followed by 18 months of probation.

Real bombs are rare

Security expert Dr. Steve Albrecht told CBC News last September that there’s a critical difference in the intentions of people who make bomb threats and actual bombers.[1]

“The bomb-threat maker doesn’t typically have any desire to blow up the building: the bomber does. In fact, the bomber does not want warning and does not want his device to be found, whereas the bomb-threat maker knows there isn’t a device. They just like being disruptive,” said the San Diego-based school and workplace violence expert. McCoombs said he couldn’t recall any instances where bomb threats investigated by Halifax police turned out to be real. There’s at least one instance in Canada where a bomb was found after a person made a threat. Roger Charles Bell, a P.E.I. man known as the Loki 7 bomber[2], carried out a string of bombings. In 1995, he phoned police with a tip about one he placed at a Charlottetown propane station, which they found and removed.


  1. ^ critical difference in the intentions of people who make bomb threats and actual bombers. (
  2. ^ P.E.I. man known as the Loki 7 bomber (

Gymnast leaves N.S. due to racial profiling

A gymnast who won a national gold medal for Nova Scotia says he has moved back to Ontario because racial profiling by local police became too much to handle. Leon Holness, 27, who is black, moved to Halifax about two years ago and attended Saint Mary s University to study criminology and advance his gymnastics career. He was on the Nova Scotia National Open Men s team that captured a gold medal at the 2016 national gymnastics championships in Edmonton Nova Scotia s first national title in the event.

It was a really memorable moment, but then I come back and deal with things like this, Holness said.

He says that since buying a $50,000 Lexus less than a month ago he has been pulled over four times, never resulting in a ticket.

I ve been receiving non-stop flack or disturbances from the police, he said in a phone interview Tuesday from Toronto after transferring to York University a few days ago.

I don t really understand what s going on. Holness said he saved up to purchase the car, a lifelong goal, and it s already 80 per cent paid for. But each time he has been pulled over, he didn t know what to expect from police.

It s that scary, where it s like Holy crap, I hope this goes down well.

On one occasion, Holness said, the officer reached into his car and touched some of the buttons. He admits failing his Nova Scotia driving test, but he kept driving with his valid Ontario licence. He said police twice contacted him once at his home and once on the phone claiming he was driving without a licence.

I don t know if they re trying to make an extra buck or something. I don t know, but it s really freaky and it s really scary. Const. Dianne Penfound, spokeswoman for the Halifax Regional Police, could not verify most of Holness claims, but was able to provide details on two instances.

On March 31, police received a complaint of a young man driving alone around Bayer s Lake with just a learner s permit. Officers could not, however, find him. On April 23, a Halifax Regional Police officer spoke to him and tried to arrange a time to meet so he could be issued a ticket for the offence, but he declined. The ticket was sent through the mail.

Police do not have to witness the offence to issue a summary offence ticket, as long as we have sufficient information provided by the witness to support the grounds to issue the ticket, said Penfound in an email. So Holness moved back to Ontario.

I can t do it anymore, he said. I can t mess up my life and be at the hands of someone else.

I ve accomplished too much in my life. I have too much to lose. In his two years living in Nova Scotia, this isn t the first instance of racial profiling Holness has witnessed. He was pulled off the dance floor of a downtown bar twice by security and was arrested the second time after being kicked out.

I did not do anything at all, Holness said. I stopped going out pretty much (after that).

Charges of racial profiling by Nova Scotia police officers is nothing new. In 2003, boxer Kirk Johnson was awarded $15,000 after a human rights inquiry found police discriminated against him based on race when he was stopped in Dartmouth five years earlier. Victor Goldberg, Johnson s lawyer at the time, said if Holness feels like he s been discriminated against, he should file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission.

There seems to be a correlation between being black and being stopped, he said.

In January, Halifax Regional Police released data since 2005 showing that black people are three times more likely to be the subject of a street check than whites.

Members of Halifax s black community have since brought the issue to the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, who have in turn hired third-party investigators to review the information.

Nova Scotia teacher raising money for greenhouse in remote Inuit village

Nova Scotia Teacher Raising Money For Greenhouse In Remote Inuit Village

The cost of groceries can make up a nearly unfathomable portion of a Nunavut family s budget, and Adam Malcolm, a Nova Scotia native who teaches in the territory, is trying to help by raising money for greenhouses. (Sean Kilpatrick/CP)

A Nova Scotian teaching in Canada s far north and appalled by the sky-high grocery prices has launched an innovative way to reduce the exorbitant cost of living. Adam Malcolm is asking his home province to pitch in to help pay for a greenhouse so people can grow fresh produce in his remote Inuit community, a tiny spot in the high Arctic across the Davis Strait from Greenland. Malcolm, 36, is the lone high school teacher at Inuksuit School in Qikiqtarjuaq, Nunavut, population 500, where the cost of food eats up more than half of a family s monthly budget, and where on a good day, eight students will show up for Malcolm s class.

I want to provide my students with the opportunity to gain the skills needed to grow their own fruit and vegetables. There are some natural green thumbs here that want to give a greenhouse a try, and there s a real chance it could be sustainable a few years down the road, he said Monday in a telephone interview from his classroom.

Malcolm was introduced to the Arctic life by visiting his brother, an RCMP officer, now retired, who was posted to Rankin Inlet. A graduate of Cape Breton University, Malcolm has been teaching in Nunavut communities for almost four years. New high-tech innovations are on the cusp of making large amounts of local greenhouse-grown food a reality, at a cost well below the price residents now pay for produce and all other food shipped in by air from southern Canada, he said. The project has Mayor Mary Killitree s blessing.

I welcome any venture that will help bring food costs down, she said in a telephone interview.

And with keen interest from local residents, Malcolm is crowdfunding to raise $3,400 for an 8×12-foot greenhouse and have it shipped to the hamlet this spring from Ottawa so they can begin planting in June. In such a cold environment as Canada s north, there are many challenges to greenhouse food production, Malcolm said. He feels it might be best to keep the northern greenhouse technology simple, using soil made from compost. He has ordered seeds that will produce a quick crop in 60-70 days, such as tomatoes, onions, peas, lettuce, beans, melons. With advances in technologies and an increasing number of greenhouse projects in northern communities, the medium-term goal that I have in mind, contingent on community support, is to help Qikiqtarjuaq secure federal and territorial funding for a larger community greenhouse that might supply fresh produce for just the cost of greenhouse upkeep, Malcolm said.

Food security is the number-one issue facing our community, said David Grant, Qikiqtarjuaq’s economic development officer. Within working families, food costs half or more of their income and, within families living in poverty, food costs are 80 per cent of income, Grant said. Malcolm s greenhouse will be set up along with a sister greenhouse project from Memorial University. A student-run program, Enactus Memorial, has partnered with the Woodward Group of Companies to expand Project Sucseed to every community in Nunavut and Labrador. Hydroponic units or large plastic tubs with air holes in the lids and an instruction manual, looking similar to those we use to store Christmas decorations, are being shipped to 43 Nunavut communities next month.

Qikiqtarjuaq, or Kit as Enactus Memorial co-project manager Kate Fradsham calls the hamlet, will receive three hydroponic kits worth $350 each in May. A kit can grow 12 heads of lettuce, 122 tomatoes or 320 strawberries for only a few dollars a crop, she said.

You will have fresh leafy greens in five weeks. Fresh vegetables and fruit are not available to people there, Grant said.

There are children who have never tasted a fresh tomato. They don t know what that is. Any garden produce brought in has no nutritional value, is tasteless and is out of date.

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