A letter sent home to parents on Tuesday by Ken Danby Public School said that a group of its elementary students discovered a dead body while off school property during lunch, revealing details behind police activity in the east end earlier in the day, and multiple witnesses gave further information to The Guelph Post.
“These students acted quickly and did the right thing by locating the closest adult who then called police,” reads the letter from the school principal, Saskia Marquis, to parents and guardians. It adds that an active investigation is ongoing.
“Events like this are rare, but we know this has an impact on all of us, staff, families and the students who were directly involved,” Marquis writes, added that “our top priority is the well-being of our students and we take this responsibility very seriously.”
“Our crisis response team was sent to the school to speak to the students who were impacted by today’s events.”
Guelph Police said on Tuesday that there was no public safety concern as they responded to an incident near the school, with residents noticing an increased police presence in the area. A police press release on Wednesday morning verified that a 30-year-old deceased man was found in the plaza.
The elementary school youth came across the body at some point around 12 p.m. on Tuesday, a witness who the kids asked to call the police said.
Four Ken Danby youth told 3 for 1 Pizza employee Mohammad Ahmadi about coming across an unconscious man behind a dumpster in a plaza near the school, Ahmadi told The Post on Tuesday evening.
Ahmadi and a Big Bear employee, who asked not to be named, said that the deceased appeared to have not been attacked but likely died for another reason. There has not been confirmation over the cause of death from authorities.
School children were still able to be picked up from Ken Danby, however, and there was no impact to classes.
Police have yet to give a formal update on the incident and thus the information supplied by witnesses have not been corroborated by officials.
‘It was horrible’
A witness, who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity, was in the plaza at the intersection of Grange Rd. and Starwood Dr. ending her lunch break when she saw a fire truck pull into the parking lot.
She said that she and her coworkers thought that it was a medical emergency at the dentist before she saw an employee of 3 for 1 Pizza speaking to the firemen and pointing to the side of the building where the dumpster is.
The ambulance showed up later but no one was brought into the waiting vehicle. The witness, who works for the city, said that she spoke to an employee of Big Bear and received confirmation that a body was found behind the dumpster.
The employee at that point talked to Mohammad Ahmadi. The fire department left at this point and police as well as the coroner drove into the plaza.
“As we were leaving the parking lot, I could see the four kids from Ken Danby sitting on the windowsill of 3 for 1 [Pizza], heads in hands, elbows on knees, talking to the police,” the witness told The Post on Tuesday evening.
“You could just see how each of their lives was altered today. It was horrible.”
The witness said the man working for 3 for 1 Pizza said that there was no blood around the body and that he “looked asleep”. The employee said that it was a young man, not much older than 19 or 20, and it could have been an overdose — however, The Post has not independently verified this information.
A second witness, Ashley Gelsinger, told The Post that she heard from a plaza employee that the male was 18-years-old, however, the man turned out to be age 30, according to police on Wednesday.
Editor’s Note: We ask that people refrain from commenting the name of the deceased or the name of the children involved in the incident — unless announced by authorities publicly — out of respect for all parties involved. This is a tragic incident and our thoughts are with the families and kids.