A prank call reporting a violent domestic incident and shots fired sent two schools into emergency lockdown and massive police resources to a South Surrey neighbourhood Wednesday.
Police were advised around noon of the 911 call received by the BC Ambulance Service, and were on the scene of a home in a cul-de-sac in the 14600-block of 17A Street “within a couple minutes.”
An hour later, however, the issue was confirmed a non-event.
“What we discovered is this is a fictitious, prank call,” acting Insp. Keith Bramhill told reporters.
“There was a lone female occupant that was … distraught to see the police presence outside her home.”
Resources deployed included the RCMP’s tactical armored vehicle, the Emergency Response Team, a canine unit and about a dozen other police vehicles. Firefighters and paramedics were also on-scene.
Residents reported seeing police staking out the house from behind trees, prior to the alert being lifted.
“You should see the weaponry they pulled out,” said area resident Brian Gough.
In addition to Semiahmoo Secondary and H.T. Thrift Elementary, the South Surrey Indoor Pool was locked down as a precaution.
“A lot of resources were expended here,” Bramhill said.
The school lockdown was downgraded to a ‘code yellow’ shortly after 12:30 p.m., according to students at the scene. Shortly after 1:05 p.m., police began clearing the area and the lockdowns were lifted.
Bramhill described such prank calls as a concern to police, and said investigation now will focus on tracking down where the call originated from and who is responsible. It’s considered an act of public mischief, he said.
Anyone convicted of public mischief can be sentenced to a maximum five years in jail and fined up to $5,000.
Bramhill noted the call does not appear to have been computer-generated.
In a news release issued at 1:10 p.m., Cpl. Scotty Schumann acknowledged such incidents “can be unnerving.”
“Our officers are highly trained and experienced in dealing with these types of situations. Community safety is the paramount consideration,” Schumann said.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 or Crime Stoppers, at 1-800-222-8477.
– with files from Melissa Smalley