City manager William Bridgeo told Global News that the man apparently complained Friday to the code enforcement office about bedbugs at his former apartment then left, but returned after he showed the cup of bugs to a manager at his new apartment and was told he couldn’t live there.
The man was not living in social housing.
Bridgeo says the man let the bugs loose in the General Assistance Office where he asked for a form to request assistance and was told he didn’t qualify since he had a source of income to pay for new housing.
Deputy health officer and case worker Sara Russell was helping the man when he released the bugs.
“He yelled, ‘They’re your problem now!’” said Russell. “I was in shock.”
“He had a Styrofoam coffee cup with some debris in it, and I thought maybe it was coffee. He slammed it down on the counter and I looked and there were live bugs crawling,” she said.
“My first reaction was, ‘Holy mackerel, this can’t really be happening!'” said Bridgeo. “I’ve been a city manager for about 40 years in several different communities, and you witness a whole bunch of weird things over a long career but this is right up there with what David Letterman might call his Top 10.”
Russell estimates there were about 200 bedbugs that scattered off.
Staff quickly began to clean up the mess by spraying Windex on the pests and wiping them up with paper towels. Exterminators were called in to spray the building with pesticides and a bedbug-detecting dog will be brought in next week to sniff out any stragglers.
Police didn’t immediately release the man’s name. The city said they are working with the district attorney’s office to see if any charges will be filed against him.
As for why the man felt compelled to direct his anger at the city for his housing situation, Bridgeo remains perplexed.
“We live in a day and age when people like to take shots at government, literally and figuratively, so I guess to some extent this sort of negative public dialogue about government influences how people think,” he said.
— With files from the Associated Press