A high stakes standoff ended peacefully last Friday evening when a single male was arrested without incident following hours of communication with local RCMP and crisis negotiators at 1800 Highway 20 (Gnome’s Home Campsite) in Hagensborg.
The man, whose name is not being released, is facing several firearms and explosive related charges. He has been transported out of the community and is now receiving medical treatment in a lower mainland hospital.
The incident began at approximately 3pm on Friday, June 8, when the Bella Coola RCMP received a note written by the man that was delivered by a concerned resident. The note expressed that the suspect was feeling depressed and had the potential to cause harm to himself and others.
All personnel from the Bella Coola Detachment were recalled for duty and responded to the incident. They were assisted by the local Conservation Officer and RMCP officers from Anahim Lake and Alexis Creek. Once there was enough manpower on site, the RCMP contained the area and closed the highway.
“We can confirm that there were multiple IED’s (improvised explosive devices) and loaded firearms at the site of 1800 Highway 20,” said Sgt. Rick Skolrood of the Bella Coola RCMP. “This individual was certainly a danger to the public.”
Once on site, Skolrood made contact with the man who indicated he wanted to speak with someone who was not part of local authorities. A conversation then began between him and RCMP crisis negotiators based in Prince George.
This lasted several hours during which time the man requested food (specifically, a meat lovers pizza made by the Valley Restaurant) be delivered to him as part of his agreement to leave his residence unarmed.
“We delivered the pizza to the male and he agreed to leave his residence peacefully,” said Skolrood. “These IED’s had the potential to cause serious damage had they been detonated, so this was exactly the outcome we were striving for.”
Skolrood said that whole incident last approximately five and half hours from the time his detachment was notified to the man’s arrest. The RCMP’s Explosive Disposal Unit disarmed all of the IED’s the following day without any trouble. Skolrood said the RCMP are in the process of determining if the male had a license for the firearms.
Although this type of incident is highly unusual for the Valley it demonstrates that even the quietest communities can face these situations, and that the training RCMP officers receive can be called into action anywhere.
“We hope for the best but train for the worst,” said Skolrood. “The officers performed admirably and thanks to their training, knowledge, ability and compassion this incident was resolved peacefully.”
Being an isolated community means most resources, including back-up for the RCMP, aren’t always right at your fingertips. Public patience and cooperation is essential during these times.
“The RCMP want to thank the good citizens of Hagensborg and Bella Coola for their patience and understanding. Public safety is our top priority, and public cooperation during these incidents is extremely valuable; especially when there are limited police resources in the Valley,” said Skolrood.