‘Dalhousie is having a rough year’: Halifax university grapples with alleged murder and threatened shootings

Faced with expulsion from Dalhousie University’s medical school, student Stephen Tynes told a campus psychiatrist on Aug. 20 that he had “no options” and was angry.

He then allegedly shared details of a sinister plot: to stab an associate dean and her daughter, and then find a gun to kill up to 20 people before taking his own life.

The shocking revelations, contained in search warrant documents, come as the university is just days from orientation week and already grappling with a string of public relations nightmares. A student who was just about to start medical school is facing charges of murdering another student who went missing last month. The school’s reputation also took a hit over allegations of a sexist and misogynistic culture within the dentistry school.

“Dalhousie is having a rough year for PR. Holy mackerel,” J.J. Podborski, digital marketing coordinator for a Halifax startup, wrote in a Twitter post Wednesday.

“Well, Dalhousie hasn’t had a good year or so in the press, have they?” tweeted Megan Blumenthal, a freelance writer in Dartmouth.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew VaughanTHE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew VaughanWilliam Sandeson, charged with first-degree murder in the death of fellow Dalhousie University student Taylor Samson, is escorted from Nova Scotia provincial court in Halifax on Wednesday, September 2, 2015. Sandeson is a varsity track athlete who was about to start classes at Dalhousie's medical school.

The university published a security bulletin Wednesday to try to reassure the community that safety was a priority. Police and security presence has been beefed up on the Carleton campus, where the medical school is located. Valid school identification is also required to access medical school buidlings.

“The student has been suspended from Dalhousie University and banned from all university campuses,” the bulletin said.

Student union president Dan Nicholson declined to say how recent events have affected campus morale. In a statement, he said the student union was busy gearing up for the arrival of 1,500 new students for next week’s orietnation week, which will involve a field party, evening concert, dance battles and cheer offs.

According to a search warrant application filed by Halifax Regional Police last month, Tynes, 30, met with campus psychiatrist Terry Chisholm on Aug. 20. He had been a client for the past 16 months.

During the session, Tynes shared that he was going to be expelled from medical school — the reasons were not explained — and allegedly told Chisholm he wanted to stab Evelyn Sutton, the associate dean of undergraduate medical , and her daughter, Ellen MacDonald, who also attends the medical school.

He then indicated he would find a gun and kill 10 to 20 people before killing himself, according to the documents. Chisholm told Tynes she would be calling the police and Tynes left her office in an “agitated state.”

Tynes was arrested later that evening in the parking lot of a Wal-Mart in Truro and charged with uttering threats and engaging in threatening conduct.

Police learned from an aunt that Tynes owned two rifles, When police searched his apartment, they found a Henry Golden Boy .22 rifle and a Russian SKS rifle, along with 1,800 rounds of ammunition, a firearms acquisition card and a membership card for the Scotia Gun Club.

Tynes is currently out of custody under court orders he live at his father’s home in Truro, not possess firearms and stay away from the campus, except under supervision.

Last year, Tynes was reportedly charged with killing a cat, but the case was later dismissed.

Details of the alleged murder-spree plot come as the school is already reeling from the news that a soon-to-be medical student, William Sandeson, 22, was charged with first-degree murder of physics student, Taylor Samson, also 22. Samson went missing last month and his remains have not been found.

Local media reports suggest that the murder may have been the outcome of marijuana deal gone bad.

Earlier this year, a task force appointed by Dalhousie found that its dentistry school had fostered a culture that ‘permits incidents of sexism and misogyny’

Investigators searched two properties in Sandeson’s hometown of Truro, N.S., saying they discovered several items of interest. The case has been put over to Sept. 24 to give the defence time to get more disclosure from the Crown.

Earlier this year, a task force appointed by Dalhousie found that its dentistry school had fostered a culture that “permits incidents of sexism and misogyny.” The task force was launched after some male students posted misogynistic comments on Facebook.

It found that the culture within the dental school was paternalistic and there was a “degree of obliviousness to changing mores and the ways in which respect for women should be expressed.”

Last month, the CBC reported the university had spent close to $650,000 defending its reputation following the scandal, with $344,669 going to hiring outside public relations experts.

With files from The Canadian Press

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