Yet another school shooting in the American continent, this time in Canada.
A 14-year-old student was shot and killed at a Toronto high school Wednesday, forcing frightened teens to stay in their locked-down classrooms for hours as police searched the building into the evening.
The school, C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute, is located near a poor area of Toronto noted for years for its high crime rate, in contrast to the low rate for the nation as a whole.
Witnesses say there was a fight outside the school before the victim Jordan Manners was chased inside and shot down.
After police received a call about a possible drowning at the school, they arrived to find the 14-year-old in serious condition from a gunshot wound. He later died at a hospital.
The police went into the school with tear gas, crowbars and sledgehammers in the expectation that the gunman was still in the school, possibly trying to hide among the other students. Finally no arrest was effect nor any weapon recovered.
By evening buses arrived to begin evacuating the students who had locked themselves in.
Police tape still surrounded the school at 8 p.m. and forensic investigators were expected to work into the night. The school was due to open again Thursday morning with grief counsellors called in to talk to students and staff.
Three high schools in the eastern province of Nova Scotia were evacuated after reports of bomb threats.
A 14-year-old in the eastern province of New Brunswick was arrested after an explosive device was found in his school, and six teens in Ontario were arrested for allegedly writing bomb threats at a local elementary school.
"Students have a right to a safe school environment. It is shocking that such a crime could take place in our schools," Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair told a news conference Wednesday evening.
The shooting comes a little more than a month after a gunman killed 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech, an American university, before taking his own life.
In September last , a gunman at Montreal's Dawson College killed a student and wounded 19 others before he died from police gunfire.
Toronto Mayor David Miller said the incident highlights the need to crack down on gun crimes in the city.
"Handguns have one purpose, and that is to kill, and it really reinforces what we've been saying for quite a while at the city," Miller told TV station CP24. "We absolutely have to get the guns off the streets. It's going to require some changes to our laws, but it has to be done."
One of the victim's neighbours, who would only identify himself as Godfried, said in an interview that he was "shocked" to hear Jordan Manners had been shot.
"I spoke to him this morning and told him to keep up his grades," said the man, a former teacher. "He was an amazing handyman. He could tear apart and put together a bike in minutes."
The neighbour said Jordan was a gentle person and it was a "shame" that someone that he knew as so kind would meet such a tragic end. "The guy was so calm. That's what I don't understand about it."
Experts noted, "The school shooters tend to be white kids in small towns in rural areas who identify with other white kids in small towns in rural areas and they sort of see their own experience and concerns and grievances in the actions of others. They see others who go on rampages in other schools as heroes. They're heroes because they got even with all the students and teachers and not only that, they're famous for it."
The latest shooting will undermine the sense of security of adolescents and schoolchildren they warned.
Dr. Marleen Wong, director of crisis counselling and intervention services for the Los Angeles Unified School District felt that the challenge for counsellors and parents will be to identify those students who are at the greatest risk of psychological trauma.
It's called a triage: Those who witnessed the violence are most at risk, followed by those who knew the shooter or the victim. Then it will be counsellors' responsibility to help those who have a history of violence.
"Trauma in the present has a ripple to the past," she said. Parents should watch their child for change of behaviour, nightmares and a fear of going back to school.
"The good news is that 75 per cent of children, with good support, do fairly well after the first week or two. They may be anxious every now and again but they do fairly well," she said. "But if they continue to have anxiety - not able to sleep at night, not wanting to go to school - if these symptoms persist or if they continue to dwell on the incident or have flashbacks or uncontrolled obsessive thoughts about it, these are children who need a crisis assessment."
Often parents will exacerbate the situation by trying to keep their kids at home. But Wong said that letting potentially traumatized children have the run of the house can be disastrous.
"Staying at home isn't the safest thing to do because parents not at home have to work. You might find students wandering around the streets or getting into trouble with friends, and being in situations where they might be traumatized more. School is the best place for them to be in, especially as they have these enhanced resources for crisis counselling," she said.
The best thing a parent can do is to listen to their kids, and to find out as much information from the school as possible as to whether crisis counselling is available and what additional security is being put in place to make kids feel safe returning to the classroom.
"Parents should make sure that their kids are comfortable and safe. This might be a time when they don't go out with their friends so much, that they stay home and really have time with the family together," she said.