Arrest made after police issue emergency alert about ‘dangerous man’ in Bible Hill, N.S.

Click to play video: 'Arrest made after police issue emergency alert in Bible Hill, N.S.'
Arrest made after police issue emergency alert in Bible Hill, N.S.
RELATED - The mayor of Colchester County, N.S., is expressing disappointment in the Nova Scotia government for a "slow response" in providing adequate support for communities still struggling four years after the mass shooting in Portapique. As Amber Fryday reports, the mayor says some residents are still struggling with a multitude of mental health-related illnesses as a result of the tragedy – Apr 19, 2024

Police in Nova Scotia say a man is in custody after the force issued an emergency alert warning people in the Colchester County community of Bible Hill to shelter in place as a “dangerous man with a firearm” was allegedly seen on foot in the area.

People living in the areas of Colchester, Cumberland, East Hants, and Pictou County were told by RCMP to seek immediate shelter and lock their doors and windows at around 9 a.m. Friday.

During a media availability following the occurrence, Nova Scotia RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Guillaume Tremblay said officers first received a report of a male with a firearm at about 8:22 a.m. — about 40 minutes before an emergency alert was sent to the public.

“When we send an alert out, it’s very serious. Therefore, we want to make sure the information that we are sending is accurate,” he said. “But the goal is to send this alert as soon as possible.”

Story continues below advertisement

Tremblay said the man was known to the person who made the report. Following the initial report, he said police received additional calls from residents saying they had spotted the man on Farnham Road with a rifle in his hand.

“At the time of the arrest, the male did not have a gun in his possession,” Tremblay said. He added that the 38-year-old man, who was from the Bible Hill area, was arrested at 9:12 a.m. in Bible Hill.

He said police “can’t rule out” any circumstances that might have resulted in the man leaving his home with a gun.

Tremblay said officers responded “very quickly” as the area where the man was reportedly seen was in close proximity to a school. He said police remained around the school vicinity at the time.

“(We were) in contact with personnel in the school just to make sure we have good coverage to offer protection for the school. They were already in lockdown … but we wanted to make sure everyone felt as safe as possible,” he said.

The RCMP official said no shorts were fired and there were no injuries as a result of the incident.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

In a social media post prior to the arrest, RCMP in Nova Scotia advised residents to shelter-in-place as officers responded in the area of Hillcrest Ave.

Story continues below advertisement

“Alert imminent. The streets surrounding Hillcrest Ave. are closed to allow officers to do their work. Please avoid,” the statement from police read.

At around 9:20 a.m., the RCMP issued a follow-up post to social media saying the suspect was now in custody.

George Gaudet, who lives in the Bible Hill area, said he watched from his home as police chased the suspect down.

“I saw a guy running about four houses over and the cops chasing him. Then they brought (police) dogs, and that’s when they caught him,” he said during an interview with Global News on Friday morning. He said he wasn’t nervous but still took precautions.

Story continues below advertisement

“I told my wife ‘Lock the door.'”

Zachary Hunt said he was working on a house in the area when he received an emergency alert.

“We locked the door and watched from the windows. They had two K9 units, at least. Everything seemed professional,” he said, adding he was surprised to see a nearby school still operating as usual despite the ongoing circumstances.

“I was a little surprised to see the school zone still open (and) people still dropping their kids off at school this morning with cops running around with guns in the back.”

He said he never received an emergency alert update once the man was in custody.

“Everything ended quietly. We never got a message saying that he was found but I did find out from the homeowner that he’s in custody now,” Hunt said.

The incident comes on the fourth anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in Canadian history. On April 18-19, 2020, a gunman — at times disguised as an RCMP officer — murdered 22 people in Nova Scotia during a rampage that began in the Colchester County community of Portapique. The victims included a pregnant woman and an RCMP officer.

On Thursday, Colchester County Mayor Christine Blair said that her community has struggled to deal with the trauma of the event.

Story continues below advertisement

“We are suffering,” Blair said, noting that mental health resources are still difficult to access in the area. “It’s huge here, and it has affected everyone.”

“There’s more violence, there’s more anger, there’s more lack of patience, intimate partner violence — lots of things that have accelerated because people are traumatized and they don’t understand what they’re actually going through, what they’re experiencing because of the trauma.”

The Mass Casualty Commission, which investigated the killings and released a wide-ranging report last year, made a number of recommendations around improving mental health access in the province.

Among those recommendations was a call for the federal and provincial governments to “jointly fund a program to address the public health emergency that exists in Colchester, Cumberland, and Hants counties as a result of an unmet need for mental health, grief, and bereavement supports arising from the April 2020 mass casualty.”

Bair said some mental health support arrived following the tragedy, but those resources weren’t permanent.

“Continuous help was needed. We need to have something there all the time,” she said.

On Thursday, Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston told reporters that the province has committed almost $9 million over two years, as part of an $18-million initiative to design and deliver mental health, grief and bereavement services in Cumberland, Colchester and Hants counties.

Story continues below advertisement

“Our commitment is there, our focus is there. There’s more to be done, there’s no question about that, but we’re committed to getting it done,” Houston said.

— with files from Zack Power and Alex Cooke

Sponsored content