Google search slow for Peel police

February 13, 2013 - All News

Peel Regional Police continue to wait on Google to comply with a search warrant that investigators hope will identify an anonymous e-mailer who sent death threats to a Mississauga couple from inside their children’s school.
While the internet giant said today it can’t speak to the specific request, it did issue a statement back in November saying it had every intention of co-operating.
“Like all law-abiding companies, we comply with valid legal requests,” a Google spokesperson said, refusing to comment on the specific request. “Generally
speaking, a request must be in writing, signed by an authorized official of the requesting agency, and issued under an appropriate law.”
Although Google has agreed to turn over the information, the wording in legal documents has caused delays.
The News reported last fall that Peel Police have served a warrant on Google and officers believe the internet giant’s records could lead to an arrest in the year-old case.
Peel Staff Sgt. Robert Higgs said the federal government is involved since it’s an international request that’s been facilitated through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, an agreement between two countries to gather and exchange information in matters that include criminal cases.
“All court-authorized correspondence has been submitted along this path,” he said. “We have not received any indication that Google is being anything less than cooperative. We have not been advised of when we can expect to receive the results of this search.”
Ashoak and Katarina 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.
Ashoak, 38, met with Police Chief Jennifer Evans to express his frustration with the case. He said he hopes the co-operation from Google helps bring closure to his family’s ordeal.
“I hope it’s the final piece to help make an arrest in this case,” he told The News last fall. “For my kids’ sake, and for my family … my kids’ lives can return to whatever you call normal now. They are in fear.”
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 previously complained about race relations at Oscar Peterson. His children no longer attend Oscar Peterson after Ontario’s Superior Court ruled last 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.
Both children now attend other schools in Peel.
Peel Police Sgt. Pete Brandwood confirmed that the e-mails were sent from a computer at the Churchill Meadows school.
“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 last year 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.
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.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 905-453-2121, ext. 1133.
— Metroland News Service