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A section of a busy St. John’s street was shut down for about two hours Monday as police searched for an assault suspect.
Turned out, however, the person was not at the house which officers had surrounded at 374 Empire Avenue and the “all clear” was given.
According to RNC spokesman Const. James Cadigan, police officers responded to the house at around 10 a.m. Monday after receiving information that the person – who was believed to have been involved in an assault Sunday night in the centre of the city — was at the Empire Avenue house.
At around 9 p.m. Sunday, a man in his 40s received non-life-threatening injuries when he was assaulted by a 42-year-old man, who was arrested and taken into custody. However, police were searching for a second suspect.
RNC had Tweeted that officers had closed Empire Avenue, from Ropewalk Lane to Cordage Place, and have “contained a residence in the area.”
Close to eight police vehicles were at the scene, while about a dozen officers, some of them armed with rifles, were there. The K-9 unit was also called in.
Some of the officers were seen walking to the back of the house. At one point, five of them went inside the front entrance. A man was also escorted in and came out with a dog.
Residents in the area were asked to remain inside their homes during the incident and traffic was diverted.
Flashing police car lights and the blocked road drew the attention of some pedestrians, who gathered near the Esso gas station to watch.
At around 12:30 p.m., one by one, police cars left and the road was reopened to traffic.
“We had information that the suspect was at that (Empire Avenue) residence,” said Cadigan, who said an occupant of the home allowed officers inside. “We were able to enter the residence and successfully clear the home. The suspect was not located at that home.”
He wouldn’t comment on what information officers had received or where it came from.
When asked why officers felt it necessary to shut down the road, Cadigan said it was for public safety reasons. As well, he said officers also wanted to ensure communication could be made with anyone inside the home safely and without interruption.
Cadigan said officers had made contact with the suspect and it’s not known whether he had been at the house and left or wasn’t there in the first place.
“The information provided to members is that it was perhaps believed that that person was at the home,” he said. “However, we were not able to confirm that information was fact.
“So, in order to ensure we didn’t take that information lightly, we did have to respond appropriately based on the information was available to the officers at that time.”
The investigation is ongoing.
It’s not the first time police have been at that house. Officers have been there several times in the last few years. Last year, a man was stabbed at the house, a bungalow which is believed to have at least one apartment downstairs.
“Not that place again,” one woman watching nearby was overheard saying to a man standing next to her.
Cadigan wouldn’t respond to questions about the history at the location, noting residents’ privacy.