Credits: Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun/QMI Agency
TORONTO — A frightening abduction at Toronto's York University was all a hoax, police said.
But for nearly 24 hours, Toronto police worked feverishly to determine who had been kidnapped from the North York campus, which has been plagued by sexual assaults, robberies and even a murder in recent years.
“It was a prank,” Const. Tony Vella said Thursday.
He said the students who participated in the phoney abduction came forward after seeing their stunt spiral out of control in the news.
Police revealed Wednesday morning they had received a call for “unknown trouble” at the post secondary school just before 5 p.m. the previous day.
Officers responded to the campus and spoke to witnesses who had seen an older, brown Safari van pull up to a person near the fine arts building.
“Two men exited the van and forced the person into the van through the side doors,” police said.
With no reports of anyone missing, investigators didn’t know if the suspected kidnapping victim was even male or a female. So they began reviewing surveillance video from the university’s security cameras hoping to determine who had been snatched.
Campus security and police also increased patrols at the school, which recently committed more than $10 million to improving safety.
York has had several sex attacks on school grounds and in dorms in recent years, including two in the last two weeks.
And Qian “Necole” Liu, 23, was killed in her basement apartment in 2011 on the edge of campus.
Vella said the students who committed Wednesday’s hoax are not facing any charges at this point.
But they will have to face their schoolmates, who weren’t laughing Thursday.
“It’s not funny,” Veronica Vanetta, 18, said after learning it could be a prank.
She and fellow first-year York student Connie Strazzeri, who are in the midst of exams, said they already worry about their safety on campus every day and they didn’t need yet another reason to be concerned.
“This is a good school but it’s a bad area,” Strazzeri, 18, said.