Winnipeg police have confirmed several arrest warrants have been issued for anti-mask rally organizers, including notorious Ontario man Chris “Sky” Saccoccia.
“One person has been arrested under the strength of an arrest warrant under the Provincial Offences Act for repeated violation of the public health order,” police confirmed Friday. “There are five outstanding warrants yet to be executed in this regard.”
“The Winnipeg Police Service can confirm that an arrest warrant under the Provincial Offences Act (Manitoba radius) has been issued for Chris Saccoccia.”
The one person arrested is not Saccoccia.
“The warrants … are stand-alone in relation to previous events,” Insp. Nick Paulet said at a Friday press conference. “This has been something that has been ongoing for a lengthy period of time and a lengthy series of investigations.”
Saccoccia was behind a recent rally in Winnipeg and has been organizing numerous rallies across the country, against COVID-19-related public health orders banning large gatherings.
In a short message posted on social media Friday, Saccoccia said he would not be setting foot in Manitoba.
“We are now in Saskatoon, due to the illegal injunction filed by the City of Winnipeg, and all the arrest warrants out for me and the other organizers, I was advised by multiple counsels not to go to Winnipeg …,” he said.
A spokesperson for Manitoba Justice could not confirm the injunction.
In a news release the province said officials from Manitoba Justice were in court Thursday to obtain the arrest warrants for six people under the Public Health Act “to prevent further offences related to attending, participating and organizing public gatherings throughout the province in violation of public health orders.”
“Enforcement officials continue to investigate all large gathering and rallies they are made aware of,” the provincial release said.
“All previous events remain under investigation and additional charges are continued to be expected. Defying public health orders is a serious offence that puts others at risk and violators will be held to account.”
Police would not name the subjects of the other arrest warrants.
Tobias Tissen, pastor at a small church southeast of Winnipeg, has openly defied public health orders and spoken at anti-restriction protests. He posted on social media that he was told an arrest warrant had been issued for him.
Dr. Jazz Atwal, Manitoba’s deputy chief public health officer, said protests ignore the reality that people are suffering.
“It’s potential for (a) superspreader event. It’s a potential to generate cases where, right now, we don’t need to generate more cases,” Atwal said.
Manitoba reported 497 new COVID-19 cases and no deaths Friday, one of the biggest one-day jumps in COVID-19 numbers since the pandemic began.
Hospital intensive care units continue to be pushed near the limit and more than two dozen patients have been sent to other provinces to free up ICU beds.
Arrest in Ontario
Saccoccia, 37, was arrested last week for allegedly threatening to kill Ontario Premier Doug Ford and other Canadian premiers amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.It was on May 12 when Toronto police alleged Saccoccia called Republican Party of Canada leader Rob Carbone and threatened to kill him, Ford, and all of the country’s premiers.
A subsequent news release by Toronto police alleged the accused, who also goes by the name Chris Sky, threatened to shoot the people identified.
Later in the day, officers went to Saccoccia’s York Region, Ont., home.
Investigators alleged he got into a vehicle and tried to drive away. As police attempted to block the vehicle, an officer got out of his vehicle and tried to approach Saccoccia, a police statement said.
It was alleged Saccoccia reversed in his vehicle and drove at the officer, prompting the officer to jump out of the way before Saccoccia sped off.
After he was eventually arrested, Saccoccia was charged with three counts of uttering death threats, assaulting a peace officer and dangerous operation of a vehicle.
Saccoccia was discharged last week on a $5,000 surety release order. As part of the conditions of his release, he was ordered to stay at his surety’s Markham home every night.
–With files from Nick Westoll, Shane Gibson and The Canadian Press