UPDATE: 4:30 p.m.
A youth has reportedly made “veiled threats to cause problems” at the annual sunset party, being held tonight, according to Penticton RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager.
“The nature of the threats varied, so I cannot comment on specifics, only to say that this was immediately assigned to an investigator and remains under investigation, which includes direct interaction with the youths involved,” De Jager said.
De Jager noted that the “infamous” sunset party, an unofficial graduation party that occurs each year, is not endorsed by the school district, public service agencies or the RCMP.
“In fact, I would like to take this opportunity to advise parents of high school age children that this party is a very dangerous undertaking. The location is purposefully remote, is out of range of most emergency services and is a sensitive area prone to risk of fire damage,” De Jager said.
Over the past several years, on top of a fatal stabbing at the party in 2011, De Jager noted the party has been host to “several aggravated assaults, sexual assaults, numerous fights and assaults and high levels of intoxication in under age youth.”
Jamie Wolanski pleaded guilty to manslaughter, the lesser count to his initial murder charge, and was sentenced to six years in prison in 2013.
“I am shocked that some parents even drive their children to this party and offer their tacit approval to these activities. Many of the attendees are over 19 years of age, are no longer associated to high school and provide liquor to youth in attendance,” De Jager said.
“The Penticton RCMP endorses dry grad parties and ceremonies. The legal drinking age in B.C. is 19. Anyone who provides liquor to those under 19 years of age commits an offence and could be held liable in criminal or civil proceedings.”
ORIGINAL: 3 p.m.
Penticton RCMP sent a warning to Princess Margaret Secondary School over apparent threats against the students’ annual sunset party, according to a letter to parents from the school’s principal.
In the letter, Roger Wiebe told parents the school received contact from police regarding “unconfirmed information that non-high school students plan to attend the event and that may create an unsafe environment involving weapons.”
“The school sees the party as a community/non-school event but felt it is important that you are aware of the potential danger to your child. Community partnership is important in ensuring we collectively maintain a safe environment for all,” Wiebe wrote.
In a statement, school district Superintendent Wendy Hyer had little to say, due to the fact that the allegations surround non-students, only relaying the letter sent by Wiebe.
“I cannot confirm that a threat has been made; this is something that the police are investigating. As always, we caution parents about letting their children attend this event as there have been various safety concerns over the past years as many of the folks who attend are not graduates, but older individuals,” Hyer said.
Penticton RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The unsanctioned annual event, which takes place in the Upper Carmi area each year after the school year, has been the site of significant violence over the years.
Jamie Wolanski was sentenced in 2013 to six years in prison for manslaughter after the fatal stabbing of Andrew McAdam in 2011.
And in January this year, Aaron Jack-Kroeger was sentenced to 15 months in jail on charges of assault causing bodily harm for his part in a swarm attack on a peer at the 2015 sunset party.
That attack had left the victim with a significant concussion and about $5,000 in dental work.