Fredericton police say they’re investigating a possible attack on a teenager outside Fredericton High School on the same day officers were sent there to patrol the property.
Police received no formal report about an incident on Thursday, but after multiple Facebook posts, the force has “started an investigative file to look into a possible incident of ‘a swarm of teenagers’ who allegedly attacked another teenager yesterday outside FHS,” police spokesperson Heather Webb said in an email.
The incident Thursday would have happened the same day police were at the school in response to a warning of a “potential for violence” that day.
Parents had received a letter from the school on Wednesday night to say it received information about the potential for violence and was working with the Fredericton Police Force and Anglophone West School District to determine next steps.
The letter came just a day after a violent brawl among students outside Oromocto High School involving a knife prompted an investigation by the RCMP.
Juliane Nowe said she was at Fredericton High School on Thursday and witnessed a group of teenagers taunt another student before some of them approached and punched and kicked him.
Nowe, who taught yoga at the school, said she was leaving at about 12:30 p.m. when she heard yelling coming from a grassy area next to the eastern parking lot.
She looked and saw a teenager walking by himself, while other teenagers from a group of about 40 shouted taunts at him.
Nowe said she walked toward the teens hoping to prevent the situation from escalating, when one out of the group approached the lone teenager and punched him.
As other teens joined in punching him, Nowe said she turned and called the school with her cellphone to try to get help from staff and police inside.
“I was like … ‘You need to send someone else, like police or staff. There’s a swarm, like a ton of teenagers here, and only one guy’.”
“And then I look back, and at this point, he was on the ground and someone had kicked him.”
Nowe said a video shared with her on social media shows part of what she saw take place that afternoon.
The video, which hasn’t been independently verified by Canada, shows one teenager being approached by another teen before getting punched in the face. He reacts by trying to kick and punch the teenager but is grabbed and pushed to the ground.
Nowe said the video ends before showing the teen being circled by about four other teens and getting punched, pushed to the ground and kicked in the side.
Nowe said she was disturbed by the violence she saw.
But she said she was left feeling more distraught by what the teens in the group were telling the other teen, such as “You shouldn’t be here,” and “You shouldn’t be alive.'”
In an email, Jennifer Read, spokesperson for Anglophone School District West, said the school and district are taking the matter seriously and are working to gather details about what happened.
“They have identified one of the boys in the video as an FHS student and have begun taking appropriate measures to address the situation,” Read said.
Yoga instructing contract terminated
Nowe said she went home that afternoon and felt the need to share what she witnessed on Facebook.
The post, which she later took down, in part read: “I want to follow up with what’s going to happen to the teenagers that were beating him up but also what’s being done for this guy. I wish I had his name. I kept listening but no one ever said it.”
Nowe said that same evening, she received a call from Fredericton High School vice-principal Fred Connors.
Nowe said he told her that the post could “bring more chaos” if there was an investigation into what happened.
She said he went on to inform her she was no longer welcome at the school and would not be asked to come back to offer more lessons.
“I was pretty shocked about that,” Nowe said. She’d taught yoga at the school for seven years.
“But I’m not going to lie. I am grateful that other people kept sharing it, screenshotted it, because then it brought up a new conversation. I have so many messages from parents from that school, from staff from that school, thanking me for saying something.”
Read, in her email, did not name Nowe or refer to a specific post, but said the misuse of social media can have a damaging impact on students and school community.
“The requirement of a safe and positive learning and working environment extends to online spaces, and we ask our staff, students and their families to ensure they are engaging in a responsible and respectful way online, via email and on their own Social Media pages.”
(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)