A 13-year-old boy from Maple Ridge has been arrested after an alleged assault involving four boys and one girl at a Port Coquitlam middle school.
The incident happened on Jan. 10 at around 3:15 p.m. at Citadel Middle School, RCMP said in a news release Tuesday.
Investigators believe that a verbal confrontation between four boys and one girl escalated when the girl allegedly used a low level of physical force, police said. The 13-year-old allegedly responded with an “inappropriate level of force” that injured the girl, police said.
The boy was arrested and released on conditions to appear in court at a later date. Mounties said they have suggested one count of assault and one count of uttering threats to the B.C. Prosecution Service.
Police did not release the boy’s name because he is a minor and has not been formally charged.
Mounties also asked the public to avoid jumping to conclusions, especially online.
“There are allegations appearing on social media that directly contradict the video evidence, witness statements, and established facts of this investigation,” said Cpl. Michael McLaughlin in the release.
“There has been a lot of anger directed to the school and police. We want to assure everyone that our first priority is to continually assess the risk and make sure that everyone involved is safe.”
More evidence needs to be gathered and evaluated, he added, and charges are possible against another youth involved.
On Monday, the alleged victim’s mother posted a detailed account of what happened. The post had been shared more than 2,500 times on Facebook as of Tuesday afternoon. Black Press Media is not publishing any names that could identify the people involved in the incident.
According to the mother, her 14-year-old daughter was at the school to pick up her younger sisters, ages 11 and 6, when a group of boys started following them, yelling profanities and sexual comments.
“The boys started walking right behind the girls and one boy walked side-by-side with my oldest daughter, and because of the slippery sidewalks, she slipped on some snow,” the post reads. “When she slipped, she bumped into his shoulder and then he called her a b****.”
She said her daughter and a 13-year-old boy got into a pushing match, which escalated, and that her daughter was punched in the face until she “blacked out.”
She said one of the other boys was filming the encounter, that her daughter told her that nearby parents didn’t intervene.
“My child’s face was covered in blood and swollen and I could not tell the extent of her injuries. It was the most terrifying moment of my life,” the mom said.
She said her 11-year-old daughter has been too scared to go back and claimed that the school has not suspended or disciplined the alleged attackers.
Black Press Media has contacted the mother for further comment. The RCMP said it could not confirm any of these details and that the investigation is ongoing.
In a statement on Twitter, Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West said he has reached out to the mother since learning of the incident, as well as RCMP and senior leadership with School District 43.
“We all have a responsibility to demonstrate respect and inclusion and be good role models for our children,” he said. “That’s what has made Port Coquitlam a diverse and welcoming community.”
— Ashley Wadhwani (@ashwadhwani) January 21, 2020
School board chair Kerri Palmer Isaak told Black Press Media the board would not comment on an ongoing police investigation, nor individual students, but that it has been in contact with the school and RCMP.
“At the moment, the most emergent issue is with the families involved and helping the families in that school,” she said.
Ken Hoff, spokesperson for School District 43 said in an emailed statement that the district is aware of the incident and “takes this matter very seriously and is addressing the situation.” He said due to the ongoing police investigation, the school district would not be providing any further comment.
Black Press Media has reached out to the school principal for comment.