Province to review ‘how and when’ emergency alert was used for Langley shooting

B.C.’s public safety minister says the province will review how emergency text alerts were used Monday when police responded to an active shooter situation in Langley, B.C.

The text alert — and two follow-ups since — was the second time police in BC have used the alert-ready system. The first occurred in 2021 during an incident in Vanderhoof when a man opened fire on a local RCMP troop.

‘We remain committed to keeping you safe’ BC RCMP on recent violent incidents

‘We remain committed to keeping you safe’ BC RCMP on recent violent incidents

While the first alert was issued at 6:20 a.m., after police killed the suspect, Sgt. David Lee, with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, told the media on Monday that it was released at “an opportune time” after police were able to link the incidents.

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3 dead, including suspect in Langley, BC shooting: Shooter identified

The first alert on Monday warned people in the Langley city center area of ​​”several shooting scenes” involving “transient victims” and provided a description of the suspect. A second alert issued shortly afterward said the gunman was no longer a threat, but police were still investigating whether there were other suspects. A third and final alert issued late Monday afternoon said the situation had been resolved.

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Speaking to the media on Monday afternoon, Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth said police are working with the best information they have at this time.

“The police were dealing with a very fluid and dynamic situation, they learned from what happened in Nova Scotia and Vanderhoof,” Farnworth said.

“This is only the second time in the province that an active shooter alert has been used. So of course they will be reviewing how things were done and the way they were carried out.

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BC Police say they are committed to ensuring the safety of the public following the shootings.

RCMP in Nova Scotia faced criticism for not issuing an emergency alert during the 2020 shooting in which gunman Gabriel Wortman killed 22 people.

RCMP Chief Supt. Ghalib Bhayani said that Monday’s alert was issued after three important criteria were met by the police.

Click to play video: 'Why Emergency Alerts Sent to Lower Mainland Cell Phones During Langley BC Shooting'

Why an emergency alert was sent to Lower Mainland cell phones during the shooting in Langley, BC

Why an emergency alert was sent to Lower Mainland cell phones during the shooting in Langley, BC

These criteria include the belief that there is an active threat and risk of serious harm to the public, an unpredictable and rapidly evolving situation that may challenge police response, and the threat and its geographic location. There is enough information to clearly communicate how the public can stay safe.

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Several Lower Mainland residents took to social media Monday to complain about the alert, some saying it woke them up, while others who don’t live in Langley said it didn’t. Understand why they received it.

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Bhayani said the decision to broadcast the alert over a wider area of ​​the Lower Mainland was deliberate.

“The alert was specific to the geographic area where we thought there would be a threat, where we assessed the risk and threat to public safety,” he said.

“Some people outside of Langley are calling and asking why this alert came to us in Burnaby or other jurisdictions. People go to work in Langley in the morning, and the investigation is still ongoing. We weren’t entirely satisfied with the preservation—that we still had that piece.”

A subsequent review will look into “how and why” the alert was issued, as well as the contents of the messages themselves, Farnsworth said.

British Columbia has been testing an AlertReady mobile phone alert system for several years, and said in May that the system was being expanded to include floods and wildfires.

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