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Gatineau, December 20, 2022. – The Service de police de la Ville de Gatineau (SPVG) and the Service de la sécurité publique de la MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais today held a press conference to raise public awareness, particularly among parents and teens, about issues related to the use of air guns and threatening comments on social media. This initiative comes on the heels of a police operation involving three Quebec police forces and two international police organizations earlier this month.

Quick facts

On Sunday, December 4, 2022 at around 10 p.m., the Sécurité publique de la MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais received notification from the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) concerning the publication of a photo transmitted through the Snapchat app. The photo had initially been intercepted by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and forwarded to Interpol for investigation.


This publication contained the disturbing image of a teen photographed with what appeared to be a handgun. The text accompanying the photo suggested that he intended to bring that weapon to school the following day.


The Sécurité publique de la MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais police immediately launched an investigation to determine where the photo came from.


The investigation identified the Snapchat IP address. A warrant was then obtained to conduct a search in a residence in L’Ange-Gardien.


Following a risk assessment, the Sécurité publique de la MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais sought assistance from the Groupe tactique d’intervention (GTI) of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ). This is common procedure in cases involving the probable presence of a firearm.


Early on Monday, December 5, 2022, The SQ’s GTI entered the residence covered by the warrant to arrest the suspect and conduct a search.


Police were then informed that the suspect was in fact a friend of the son of the residents, who had spent the weekend with them. However, he had left the day before to return to his family. The friend in question had used the residents’ WiFi to publish his photo and message on Snapchat.


The Sécurité publique de la MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais immediately notified the SPVG because it was determined that the suspect lived in Gatineau.


In accordance with investigation procedures, the teen’s whereabouts were determined in the Gatineau sector, where he was arrested and then taken to Headquarters to meet with investigators.


The teen was released on a promise to appear, along with a number of conditions.


Charges of uttering threats and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose will be submitted to the Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales (DPCP) to be handled by the Chambre de la jeunesse.


Management at the high school where the teen is a student have been notified of the situation. Management and the SPVG’s school resource officer will monitor the student.

Uttering threats is not a crime of intent to commit an offence: it may lead to significant police interventions

The section of the Criminal Code providing that it is prohibited by law to utter a threat to kill or injure a person or an animal or to damage property is not a crime of intent to commit an offence.
– Even if the action is intended to be a joke or the words were uttered without real intent, if those words have the effect of creating a sense of fear, the offence is deemed to have been committed.


The SPVG wants to send out a clear message: people who utter such statements, whether in the virtual or the physical world, expose themselves to criminal charges and to the resulting consequences.


Given that it is practically impossible to distinguish between a replica of a firearm (air gun or airsoft gun) and a real firearm, the police will not take a chance. Police interventions with an armed individual are always serious, the aim being to protect the public.


In addition, it should not be forgotten that police officers are trained to neutralize the threat. An individual pointing an air gun at a police officer or anyone else is exposing themselves to serious consequences because police often cannot determine from a distance whether or not it is a real gun. A person acting in this manner puts themselves and others at serious risk.


Children and teens should never use an air gun unless they are under the close supervision of an adult.


Parents should discuss with their children the rules surrounding the use of air guns and imitation guns. It is important to address the rules of:
– storing guns;
– transporting guns; and
– using guns.


It is particularly important to make young people aware of the fact that information moves quickly through the internet and social media, and it is practically impossible to delete an image once it has been posted. Thus, they should never have pictures taken with an air gun or an imitation gun, and even less so post such a photo on the web.


It is important to remember that there are very real legal consequences to uttering threats to a person, a group or an organization, and that such threats are never an acceptable joke because they create a sense of insecurity among the public.


Before offering a child or a teen an air gun or an imitation gun as a gift, it is essential to make sure that they are sufficiently mature to use it properly. Even though such weapons do not necessarily have the lethal power of a firearm, some of them can cause serious injury.


To ensure that the child or teen adheres to their commitment to use such a weapon properly, the SPVG and the Sécurité publique de la MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais encourage parents to sign a usage agreement with them. An example of such a contract is available at the bottom of this document.


“There is no such thing as anonymity online. We want to make people understand that this type of action has serious consequences,” indicated Service de la sécurité publique de la MRC des Collines-de-l’Outaouais chief of police Martial Mallette.

“The proliferation of firearms, the growing popularity of air guns that are practically identical to lethal weapons, and the sense of impunity that comes with social media make for a disturbing cocktail. We all have a role to play in limiting the trivialization of violence, which is sometimes expressed by sharing photos with weapons or utterances that raise fears of a threat,” stated Michael Côté, an inspector with the SPVG’s Division des enquêtes criminelles.

Usage agreement (available in French only)