Police in Nanaimo had weapons drawn when they arrested a man whom several people witnessed pointing a firearm.
The incident happened shortly before noon Thursday in the area of Hammond Bay and Rutherford roads when, according to police, witnesses saw a man point a handgun at another person and then run off.
“Shortly before 12 o’clock we got a report of a young male, who was believed to be in possession of a handgun and it was reported that he allegedly pointed the handgun at an individual and took off running,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “This was witnessed by several people.”
Police tracked the man down, within about 15 minutes, to a location on Delta Circle near Rutherford Elementary School grounds and had guns drawn believing the suspect was carrying real firearms, and schools in the area were put into a hold and secure status to keep students indoors.
“He initially did not comply with demands,” O’Brien said. “Given the fact that we believed he was in possession of firearms, members had their service pistols and carbines out and pointed at him.”
The suspect eventually complied and was arrested. O’Brien said three unloaded airsoft pistols were found in his possession.
“He is currently in custody,” O’Brien said. “He is an 18-year-old male. He’s considered an adult and he is facing several firearms-related charges and we are certainly investigating the allegation that he pointed a firearm at an individual.”
The alleged pointing of the firearm might have resulted from a disturbance between several individuals, which police are also looking into.
O’Brien clarified that, while an airsoft BB gun or any replica gun is not a firearm, it is considered a firearm when it is used to threaten someone into thinking it is a real weapon, such as in a robbery.
“This young man is very lucky it ended the way it did, given the fact that he was evading police, the fact that we believed that he was in possession of a real firearm and our members do not have the time on the street to ascertain whether it’s real or fake,” O’Brien said. “Initially he came out with the firearm in his hand. It was above his head. Let’s just say that he’s very fortunate it ended the way it did. Very fortunate.”