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Second bail hearing Friday for man charged with threatening Clarenville school

Riverside Elementary School in Shoal Harbour.
Riverside Elementary School in Shoal Harbour. - file photo

Roughly 100 parents kept children home Wednesday morning

Gordon Wheaton is led into Clarenville provincial court Tuesday, March 13.
Gordon Wheaton is led into Clarenville provincial court Tuesday, March 13.

CLARENVILLE, N.L. — Less than 24 hours after being released on bail for allegedly threatening, via email, staff and students at Riverside Elementary, Gordon Wheaton was arrested for allegedly breaking one of the several conditions of that release.

Wheaton, 45, was charged with failure to comply with condition of undertaking or recognizance.

One of the conditions of his release during his bail hearing yesterday was that he must not possess, consume or traffic any illegal drug or substance — this is the condition that he is alleged to have broken.

According to an RCMP release sent out earlier this morning, March 14, RCMP laid the charge during a court approved curfew check the night prior.

Wheaton appeared briefly before judge Paul Noble this afternoon, and a bail hearing was arranged for Friday morning, March 16. Until then, he will remain in police custody.

Meanwhile, parents of Riverside Elementary students say they’re concerned for their children’s safety. In fact, many parents choose to not allow their children to attend Riverside Elementary of Clarenville Middle this morning.

Roughly one hundred parents confirmed to The Packet that they did not send their children to school this morning.

Jasmine Lambert was one such parent.

“Once they caught wind of what was going on, they were frightened to death to go to sleep last night,” says Lambert, who kept her children home from school today.

She says that parents should have been made aware of the threat, and not have to find out about it by reading news reports on social media.

“We were never made aware of what these actual threats were. We were under the impression that the kids were kept home because the roads were icy,” she explained.

Lambert also wondered if more could be done to increase safety measures at the school, noting that a temporary police presence could quell both parents’ and students’ anxieties.

Some parents, upon hearing that Wheaton was once again in police custody, told The Packet they brought their children into the school’s afternoon session.

The charges have not been proven or disproven in court, and no plea from Wheaton has yet been entered. He has not been convicted.

Newfoundland and Labrador English School District (NLESD) made the decision to close three Clarenville schools — Riverside Elementary, Clarenville Middle and Clarenville High — early Tuesday morning after RCMP notified them of the threat. Upon learning that the suspect had been taken into custody, NLESD decided to reopen the three schools for yesterday’s afternoon session.

When asked to speak with NLESD CEO Tony Stack regarding the incident and safety concerns raised by parents, The Packet was told, due to ongoing legal activity, Stack would not be available for comment.

NLESD did offer a statement that safety of staff and students is their top priority.

The Packet will have more information as it becomes available.

Related Story: Clarenville area schools closed due to threat aimed at Riverside Elementary

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