The preschool at Saint Mary’s School in Chilliwack was closed Friday, and the elementary school postponed opening after verbal threats were made by a man who attended on Wednesday and Thursday. (Paul Henderson/ The Progress)

Chilliwack Catholic preschool closed after threats made to priest, principal

RCMP intercepted man who is now in hospital under observation

A verbal, in-person threat to a Chilliwack Catholic priest and the principal of the adjacent Catholic school has the RCMP involved and the closure of the preschool for Friday.

A letter sent to parents with children at Saint Mary’s School on Thursday outlined the threats and the school’s response.

“On Wednesday morning, there was an individual who attended mass and made some verbal threats towards the priest and principal,” the letter signed by Johanna Chiappetta. “The RCMP was called and a police report was made.”

As a result of the threat and repeated visits by the individual, for precautionary reasons, the elementary school postponed opening until 10:45 a.m. on Friday and the preschool was closed for the day.

The note from the school also told parents the make, model and licence plate on the vehicle driven by the person who made the threat.

On Thursday, the man returned and attended the 8 a.m. mass again.

“The police [were] called and he was escorted off the premises,” Chiappetta wrote. “Before leaving, the individual did say that he would come back again tomorrow morning.”

Police confirmed they would be present Friday before 8 a.m. if he showed up, despite being ordered to stay away.

Chilliwack RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Mike Rail confirmed the police were involved and said the man was intercepted on Thursday and is now at Chilliwack General Hospital under evaluation, with the RCMP’s social chronic program is involved.

Rail said the police were told, in part, that the individual was “preaching” to the priest and challenging their beliefs. He added that there was no real danger presented to the school, but police are investigating and the status of the case is fluid.

“The safety of students and schools remain a priority,” Rail said.

One parishioner said she wanted to attend Saint Mary’s Catholic Church Friday because her aunt is dying. But then she found out about the threats.

“After seeing all the New Zealand appalling hate crime, I am upset the local threat to our priest and church has caused my entire family fears from going to our normal place of worship and school,” said the woman who asked not to be named.

• READ MORE: Mass shootings at New Zealand mosques kill 49; 1 man charged


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