A spokesperson for the Nova Scotia RCMP said that an emergency alert issue last Friday was accurate based on information reported to 911 that evening.
The alert stated that “two recent shootings occurred in East Preston and North Preston,” although it was later determined there was no gunfire in North Preston. In an email to the Examiner, Cpl. Chris Marshall said the information in the alert “timely and accurate:”
Please note that on April 8, 2022 at approximately 6:55 p.m., Halifax District RCMP responded to several calls of shootings, that were all received by the 911 centre almost simultaneously. The information that 911 dispatchers were provided by callers was that shootings had occurred in the communities of North Preston and East Preston. This is the information we had at the time of the alert.
Through our investigation, it was determined that the shootings had occurred in the community of East Preston, that no shootings had occurred in North Preston, and that two people were involved, rather than three as was initially reported to us. We issued a media release advising that the shootings had occurred in East Preston, and of the arrest of two suspects.
Emergency alerts must contain timely and accurate information, especially in fluid and dynamic situations such as the one that occurred on April 8, 2022. The information contained in the emergency alert was both timely and accurate, as this was the information that we had at the time that the alert was issued, based on information provided to us by callers to 911.
In the e-mail, Marshall reiterated that the RCMP provided updates through social media throughout the night and that the emergency alert was canceled at around 11pm.
“Investigators remained in the area overnight and continued to gather information and evidence related to the shootings.”
In an interview with the Examiner Monday, Archy Beals, who’s from North Preston, said the community deserves and apology because of the misinformation in the alert.
“To have an alert like that broadcast across our town, number one, it sends false information. Number two, you have people in the community who are now afraid, who are now scared,” he said.
“And we have seniors in the community who live alone. That just adds another level of frightening to these people, to these seniors in the community. People [outside the community] probably still believe that there were shots fired in North Preston when they weren’t.”
The morning following the alert, Preston MLA Angela Simmonds issued a statement saying she was “deeply concerned” about the official communication about the events the night before and that she had “started conversations with the RCMP about their response.”
“I will also be requesting a meeting with the Minister of Justice to emphasize the importance of accurate emergency alerts, and I will be asking what concrete action he is taking on gun violence in this Province,” her statement read, in part.
In a media release on Saturday, RCMP said one of the suspects arrested Friday was arrested after entering a home without permission on Cherry Brook Road in Cherry Brook. Though it also said that both suspects had been released without criminal charges.
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Ms. Simmons should ask the former Liberal Minister of Justice what action he took on gun violence and she should ask Mayor Savage what action he is taking on gun violence. In October 2021 the RCMP announced they were implementing 24/7/365 police patrols in the Preston area. Unfortunately the comments are not in the minutes of the BOPC meeting and no document is available and no reporter has ever mentioned the comments.
If authorities waited until all information was verified an alert could be delayed and people injured or killed. The RCMP have been roundly criticised by the public and journalists for delaying the issuance of an alert in the matter of the Portapique murders. – this time they acted appropriately.