'We won't ignore it': Calgary police investigate pandemic threats
Published Wednesday, April 1, 2020 1:59PM MDT Last Updated Thursday, April 2, 2020 9:35AM MDT
In Canada, a person can still be charged with uttering threats, even if there was no plan to carry it out. (File)
CALGARY -- Calgary police say they are taking threats related to the COVID-19 pandemic seriously, and have already laid charges against a man for uttering threats on social media.
"It is unacceptable that some members of our community are weaponizing this pandemic to make others feel even more vulnerable than everyone already does. We won’t ignore it," said Const. Craig Collins, hate crimes coordinator.
Police say the man charged is accused of writing a comment in an Indigenous social media group threatening to intentionally spread the virus, which as of Tuesday has killed more than 43,000 people around the world, to Indigenous people.
Police are also investigating a case where a Calgary Chinese restaurant received an anonymous threat last month, which was believed to be motivated by the current pandemic.
A suspect has been identified and the investigation is ongoing.
Police say the COVID-19 pandemic has people concerned for their health and welfare, and threats like these further undermine a victim's already fragile sense of safety.
"While making a threat towards a stranger may not seem like a big deal to some, it leaves victims shaken and worried that someone is actually out to get them," Collins said.
In Canada, a person can still be charged with uttering threats, even if there was no plan to carry it out.
Police say if the threat is motivated by bias, prejudice or hate, it can also be prosecuted as a hate-motivated crime.