UPDATE: OPP investigating weapons call at youth dance in Essex

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An incident at a youth dance in Essex over the weekend in the Shaheen Room at Essex Arena has created a stir, with many parents and local politicians speaking out.

The youth Optimist dance was for students in Grades 5 to 8, but that didn't prevent problems from arising.

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(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Sherry Bondy)

Ontario Provincial Police responded to a weapons call and say a person matching a description in the report was located and the OPP are asking any witnesses to come forward.

One social media post from a parent outlined how there was an air gun used on students, staff and chaperones were disrespected and shoved among other things, and when police were called they too were met with derision from the students responsible.

Essex councillor Sherry Bondy joined AM800's The Morning Drive on Monday to discuss, and says this type of behaviour is completely unacceptable and that other councillors have also been made aware of what happened.

"Chair of the Police Services Board, councillor Kim Verbeek, sent an email to council and she's taking this very seriously. It happened at Essex Arena, and that's why I think we have an extra layer of diligence that we need to do. This happened on town property, this is no joking matter. This is assault with a weapon, doesn't matter what kind of gun it is, this is extremely serious."

She says that kids should feel safe when they go out to events, and not get terrorized by a handful of people looking to make problems.

"I've heard that there were ten involved, and I've also heard that the police are investigating," she continued. "All night I was getting posts from parents, as a parent this is your worth nightmare, nothing worse than getting a call and your kid is somewhere saying there's a gun."

Bondy says when someone sees a gun, who's to say what kind of gun it is at the time? She says it's a scary thing for anyone, let alone the kids in the grades at the dance.

She went on to say that as councillors, they take incidents like this very seriously, and will continue to make sure the proper authorities follow up with parents and children.

"The youth that were involved in this need to realize they are building a destructive path for their lives. What if the police came in and said put your gun down, and they didn't because they think it's a toy gun, they're putting their lives in danger. Because it takes one shot from a police officer to hurt these youth, they're walking on a dangerous path."

The OPP have also been called in about this weekend's incident, and Bondy reported that several parents are calling the local schools this morning to find out more.

Bondy says she wants to see a community that is safe for everyone, and shooting of any type of gun at a youth dance cannot be tolerated.

 

- with files from AM800's The Morning Drive