Police have taken two men into custody, after a “weapons complaint” call at the Halifax Shopping Centre forced shoppers and employees to shelter inside stores.
Officers began arriving at the mall on Mumford Road in the city’s west end at around 1 p.m. Tuesday.
Shoppers and employees described a hectic scene to Global News.
“The police are coming through, they’re saying, ‘Evacuate!’ said Brandon MacKenzie, a store employee at the shopping centre.
“It was crazy. People running through the hallways.”
Witnesses said that many people were able to evacuate from the building, however, those who were unable to exit were told by officers to stay in the back of stores.
“I’ve worked many years in security and I’ve never seen a police officer pull out a rifle before,” said Alex Lavoie.
“I’ve never seen them pull out a weapon. It was scary.”
Another employee, Alex Armstrong, was able to evacuate the building. His sister was among those sheltering inside.
“Security was just running around telling everyone to lock their doors and hide. So, obviously they couldn’t run out,” he described.
At around 1:30 p.m., Halifax Regional Police said while the investigation was ongoing, there were no reports of injuries or firearms being discharged.
By 3:30 p.m., police confirmed that two men were in custody and there was no threat to public safety.
MacKenzie said he witnessed the arrests and saw what appeared to be a large amount of jewelry.
“When they were coming out and being arrested and the police were searching them and everything and when they came out, the bag of gold was huge,” he said.
During the incident, three schools were placed in hold and secure, which meant the external doors were locked.
St. Catherine’s Elementary, Westmount Elementary and St. Agnes Junior High were affected.
A spokesperson from Halifax Regional Centre for Education said the move was a precautionary measure and that families had been notified.
Later in the afternoon, the hold and secure was lifted and students were dismissed at the regular time.
— With files from Amber Fryday