Police turn to Google to pinpoint source of school death threats

Peel Regional Police have served a search warrant on Google demanding the Internet giant turn over information about the e-mailer who sent death threats to a Mississauga couple last year from inside their children’s school.

Officers are hopeful the records will lead to an arrest in the year-old case.

Ashoak and Katrina Grewal, whose kids used to attend Oscar Peterson Public School, remain frustrated that no arrests have been made in the case, more than a year after the disturbing e-mails were reported to police.

“The police officer told me the e-mails were coming from Oscar Peterson Elementary School,” Grewal said.

The first threat, sent to the Grewals near the end of September 2011, stated: “When you can be caught alone, you are going to get the worst beating of your life. Not only that your two kids and wife are now targets watch them close because they are going to die before you do you will suffer pain beyond your dreams.”

More e-mails followed with a final message arriving the second week of October 2011. It described Grewal’s daughter and threatened to harm her.

Grewal, who teaches at Stephen Lewis Secondary School, has publicly complained about race relations at the school. His children no longer attend Oscar Peterson after Ontario’s Superior Court ruled earlier this year in favour of the Peel District School Board’s original decision to remove the children from the school and transfer them to a different location.

Director of Education Tony Pontes said the action was taken for the children’s own safety.

Peel Police Sgt. Pete Brandwood confirmed today that the e-mails were sent from a computer at the Churchill Meadows school and said he wanted to quell speculation that the investigation is closed.

“To date, detectives have not made any arrests in this case. The file remains open and active, and the investigation continues,” he said. “If more evidence becomes available, officers may be able to determine the direction of the case based on the nature of the information.”

Police don’t know whether the anonymous e-mails were sent by a student or teacher.

“Police have not identified suspects or narrowed down to a list as far as we know,” said Peel Board spokesperson Brian Woodland, who added the investigation is being taken seriously.
Brandwood didn’t get into investigative tactics, but a prosecutor familiar with the case confirmed to The News that police and the Crown Attorney’s office recently served a search warrant on Google’s corporate headquarters in California.

The investigation has determined the anonymous e-mails were sent from a website owned by Google. The warrant asks that Google turn over registration and other information associated with the anonymous e-mails. Police are waiting for those records, but the wording in legal documents has caused delays, the Crown said.

Meanwhile, after a racially-charged altercation between Grewal and a teacher at Oscar Peterson, the board commissioned an independent third-party report in 2010. It revealed a history of race-based issues among the staff there, some of whom were described as being “resistant” to change as the ethnic demographics of the community have evolved.

Grewal said earlier this year the children will continue to be schooled at home, something the board has been paying for since last November.