Five-hour standoff ends at Sherwood Mall

Nigel Armstrong NArmstrong@TheGuardian.pe.ca
Published on March 1, 2016

A paramedic is seen talking to a police officer in a vehicle outside an incident Tuesday in the Sherwood Shopping Centre. A man inside the building was threatening harm to himself if his demands concerning social assistance were not met.

©THE GUARDIAN/Nigel Armstrong

Man threatens to harm himself at Charlottetown social assistance office

A police crisis negotiation team spent five hours slowly calming a man down at the social assistance offices in Charlottetown Tuesday.

"He went into income support and passed them a note, saying he wasn't going to leave," said Deputy Chief Brad MacConnell of Charlottetown Police Services. "If they made him leave, he was going to do harm to himself."

He had a small knife with him, but police say he didn't make any threatening gestures with it.

"He wasn't threatening towards them, but he was going to use that to further his cause. He wasn't happy with the services he was getting," said MacConnell.

"Police arrived and it ended up in a crisis negotiation."

The man arrived at the reception desk just before the office closed at 5 p.m. It ended around 10 p.m. when the man was taken from the mall in handcuffs, taken to the ambulance for a quick check of his health and then loaded into the police van.

"This is a mental health issue, which we don't normally comment on," said MacConnell.

However, in this case, the event played out in the public space of the Sherwood Mall with police vehicles stationed outside in the parking lot blocking the main entrance of the building.

An ambulance was present, too.

MacConnell did not clarify if charges were pending. The incident is under investigation.

The office was the scene of another incident involving police in June when a woman became upset while meeting a social services worker there. She used a hammer to smash some windows inside the building as well as hit a vehicle in the parking lot before being arrested. At that time, the then health minister, Doug Currie, said his department was looking at its safety and security policies.

"It concerns me that someone would get to that state in our offices," Currie told The Guardian at the time. "This was an unfortunate situation, but it was also an isolated situation."