Winnipeg police say drugs may have factored into morning of mayhem

A man in handcuffs.
A man in handcuffs. Pixabay File

Winnipeg police said drug use may have been a factor in a chaotic series of events Tuesday that ended with a man from St. Jean Baptiste behind bars.

The apparently random rampage began around 6:05 a.m. near Notre Dame Avenue and Winnipeg Avenue West, when the suspect approached a man unprovoked and knocked the man’s coffee over his face and torso, police said.

The suspect then moved on to a nearby restaurant, jumped the counter and demanded to use a phone.

Staff tried to flee, but the suspect allegedly grabbed a female employee, stole a phone, and grabbed a carafe of hot tea and threw it toward a customer.

Police said staff were able to escape by crawling through a drive-through window.

READ MORE: Winnipeg police seek B.C. man for multiple drug offences

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The suspect’s next stop was a Weston/Brooklands-area gas station, where he is alleged to have stolen a pack of cigarettes, started smoking inside the business, then throwing merchandise and lit cigarettes at the woman working there. Police said he later held a lighter up to a gas nozzle before going back into the store and stealing a drink.

Finally, he stopped at a nearby convenience store, where he again demanded a phone, stole cigarettes, and smoked indoors, while threatening to kill a male employee.

When police arrived, they had to use force to safely take him into custody. He was taken to hospital and treated.

Drew Matthew Towns, 20, faces two counts of assault with a weapon, three counts of robbery, two counts of mischief under $5,000, uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm, and uttering threats to damage property.

“Fortunately in this case, as wild as it seems, as dangerous as it seems, no one was injured. No officers were injured, and this person wasn’t injured, aside from being treated for drug use,” police Cst. Jay Murray told 680 CJOB.

“I think this incident was very traumatic for everyone involved – whether it be the employees that were terrorized, if you want to call it that, or anyone who would have witnessed this or been in any of the stores during the incidents.”

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Although police couldn’t definitively say meth was to blame for the chaos, Murray said the suspect was acting a manner consistent with meth use, and that this type of behaviour is the reality of what police are up against when it comes to the meth crisis.

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