A chaotic scene in downtown Guelph on Tuesday evening ended with four people injured, including children, two bystanders pepper-sprayed and a suspected impaired driver facing a very long list of charges.
It also left six cars smashed and stretches of two of downtown Guelph’s main streets closed along with another cross street.
Guelph police were notified of a possible impaired driver at around 5 p.m. at the main branch of the Guelph Public Library on Norfolk Street.
But as they arrived, a black SUV reversed into a light pole and drove away.
It then sped past a stop sign and struck a white car being driven by a woman with her two children under the age of 10 at Norfolk and Cork streets.
Police said the SUV then drove down Cork Street, striking two parked vehicles before running another stop sign at Wyndham Street and colliding with two other vehicles.
“Horrendously dangerous activity by this individual. Clearly no regard for public safety,” Sgt. Ray Gordon said from the scene.
The mother and her two children along with a man in another vehicle were treated at the hospital for minor injuries.
Police said after the final collision, the suspect ditched the SUV and tried to run away when he was stopped by two bystanders.
“He discharged a substance similar to pepper spray at the two bystanders, causing some irritation to their eyes,” police spokesperson Scott Tracey said on Wednesday morning. “Approximately at the same time, police arrived on scene and were able to take him into custody.”
On top of all this, police said the SUV the suspect was driving had been reported stolen on May 27 from an address outside of Guelph.
The suspect has also been charged in connection with the attempted robbery of a bicycle from an east-end home earlier in the day.
“The homeowner came out and intervened and at that time, the homeowner was also sprayed with a similar noxious substance,” Tracey said.
Police added that the man was also found with $450 worth of purple fentanyl and was believed to be under the influence. He was taken to hospital to provide a blood sample to confirm.
Investigators were forced to close stretches of Norfolk Street and Wyndham Street, along with all of Cork Street, for several hours.
Charges against the 32-year-old man include robbery, three counts of assault with a weapon, three counts of administering a noxious thing, possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, possession of stolen property and flight from police.
Tracey said it’s particularly concerning to have this rampage going on downtown during rush hour and while a vigil was being set up nearby for the 215 children found dead in unmarked graves at a former Kamloops residential school.
Over 300 people ended up attending that vigil later that evening.
“If this had unfolded a short time later, even an hour later, there would have been many more people downtown and put the public in jeopardy even more than it was,” he said.
The suspect has not been identified but has been held in custody pending a bail hearing.