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.
“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, 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.
LOS ANGELES, CA An octogenarian driver inadvertently accelerated in a supermarket parking lot Tuesday, striking five people, but no one was seriously hurt, authorities said. The accident occurred at 3:15 p.m. at the Ralphs store in the 18000 block of Chatsworth Street near Zelzah Avenue, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. Three patients were transported for hospital treatment — an 83-year-old man, an 84-year-old woman and a 64-year-old woman. None of the patients were in serious condition, according to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Valley Traffic division, and reports from the scene characterized all of the injuries as minor.
The driver, a woman in her 80s, had just backed out of a parking space with the assistance of a security guard, according to an LAPD spokeswoman.
When the motorist was clear of the parking space, the guard tapped the back of her sedan to let her know that she was good to go. Apparently startled, she instead hit the gas, striking the guard and four other pedestrians, according to the LAPD.
The LAPD will not pursue charges against the driver, the spokewoman said, but will request that the senior’s driving skills be evaluated.
City News Service; Photo: Shutterstock
Peterhead Sheriff Court
A north-east sheriff has delayed sentencing a man who admitted attacking a police officer and court security guard, after his solicitor resigned from acting. Ian Norrie appeared at Peterhead Sheriff Court yesterday and was due to be sentenced for two counts of assault. Earlier this month the 45-year-old admitted trying to butt a G4S security guard in the court building in May last year and kicking a sergeant at Fraserburgh police station during a strip search in November.
But yesterday Norrie s solicitor Leonard Burkinshaw told Sheriff Andrew Miller that he would no longer be representing the Fraserburgh man. Sheriff Miller said it was acceptable for solicitors to withdraw from cases and asked Norrie, who appeared from custody, whether he would be seeking fresh legal advice or representing himself. Norrie responded that he had never meant to assault Sgt Rory Campbell.
The police had me on the ground and my leg flicked the officer s leg, he said. I had no intention to assault him.
But the sheriff told Norrie he has already pleaded guilty to the offences, adding: The law is clear, you pleaded guilty and you are guilty. We cannot unpick that.
Norrie, of St Andrews Drive in Fraserburgh, was remanded in custody and has been given time to seek legal advice. He is due to return to court on Tuesday, May 9.