Police in Fredericton have arrested a teen in connection with a weapons call this weekend that forced the evacuation of the Regent Mall.
Police say the 13-year-old boy, who cannot be identified because of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, was released from police custody and will appear in Youth Justice Court in September on a charge of pointing a firearm.
The weapons call began around 4 p.m. on Saturday when Fredericton Police Force and New Brunswick RCMP members were called to the mall for reports of an altercation.
A witness had seen a firearm.
The mall was mostly evacuated, while some people were directed to shelter in place by police.
At the time, police issued tweets telling people not to share information on social media about the incident, especially the location of officers at the scene. Some people voiced concern on social media because they could not reach loved ones who they believed were inside the mall.
“The Fredericton Police Emergency Response Team conducted a thorough search of the building to ensure that there was no ongoing threat to public safety,” police said in a news release.
Police now say their investigation revealed two groups of youth were involved in the altercation, and that the suspect who had the firearm had left the mall before police arrived.
The weapon has been seized, and police say it was in fact an air-powered BB gun.
“It is often very difficult to distinguish replica firearms from the real thing, and when used in the commission of a crime, there is no difference under the Criminal Code between an authentic and a replica firearm,” police note.
“Parents and guardians should remind children that the implications for misuse of these weapons are very serious. While air-powered firearms are readily available for public use without a firearms licence, it is important to note that care should be taken to use them properly, and certainly not for fun or to threaten public safety.”