By Peggy Revell on February 13, 2018.
A 38-year-old man is in custody following a standoff with police that began early Monday morning, and led to a Southview neighbourhood street barricaded off for several hours.
Medicine Hat police say the incident began at approximately 2:30 a.m., when a patrol team went to a residence on Cuyler Road to investigate allegations of criminal harassment and uttering threats toward a female victim with whom the accused had formerly been in a relationship with.
“The patrol officers went to go locate him and speak to him about it, and arrest him if there were grounds for the arrest,” said major crimes S-Sgt. Chad Holt. “Upon attending there and approaching him, he produced a firearm, and that’s when he threatened to kill himself.
“Officers were forced to give him some space to not encourage that. That led to the containment of the resident and the standoff.”
There was one woman in the residence at the time —a different one than the original complainant. Holt said she was evacuated safely with the officers as they backed out.
Surrounding residences were also evacuated, with an emergency shelter established at the nearby Patterson Armoury.
“There’s always a risk … that somebody could get hurt because a firearm could cause injury in a neighbouring residence. So as a precaution we normally evacuate everybody in a close proximity that could be a risk,” said Holt, thanking people for their co-operation, especially as the evacuation happened in the middle of the night.
Nearby residents were also contacted by police and advised to shelter in place, and remain where they were.
“Once the area was contained, officers began negotiation,” said Holt. This started with the patrol team, then the Tactical Arrest Control Team and trained negotiators were brought in.
This went on for several hours, Holt said, with police eventually determining the man was not going to come at all.
To end the standoff, police chose to deploy a “chemical agent” into the residence — with Holt explaining it’s a canister filled with a mixture akin to pepper spray and tear gas.
“It’s an irritant and it’s very uncomfortable when it’s deployed in the same room as somebody,” he said, and it generally will force people to leave a house to get fresh air.
“It’s not harmful to the neighbours or neighbourhood, and just needs a little bit of air to dissipate, and you don’t even know it’s there after that.”
Once this was deployed the man exited the residence and was arrested without further incident.
MHPS Major Crimes Section continues to investigate, while the area has been cleared so residents can return home.
Police have dealt with the suspect in the past, said Holt, and he was known to the officers who had attended.
The man, whom police have not officially named, faces charges of uttering threats, criminal harassment and multiple firearm related offences.
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