© Cape Breton Post - TC Media
Cape Breton Regional Police locked down the Mayflower Mall in Sydney April 22
A man has been arrested in connection with an incident that resulted in the largest mall in eastern Nova Scotia being put on lockdown for two hours Tuesday morning.
Cape Breton Regional Police responded to a report of a man with a medium-build man with short, dark hair, wearing a grey hoodie, grey sweatpants and white baseball hat, carrying what appeared to be a handgun outside the Mayflower Mall in Sydney. The call was made to police shortly before stores inside the mall were due to open at 10 a.m.
A 35-year-old Sydney man was arrested on Charlotte Street soon after the mall reopened at around 11:30 a.m. Police say they seized a BB gun from the man. He is expected to appear in Sydney provincial court today to face charges of possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and a breach of probation.
Patrol officers, investigators and members of the emergency-response team cleared the building and surrounding area before determining it was safe to reopen.
“We had a quick response from our tactical team officers that are on patrol to come to the Hudson’s Bay area of the Mayflower Mall just to do a preliminary investigation to see what we could learn,” said Staff Sgt. Stephen MacKinnon of the Cape Breton Regional Police.
The canine unit also responded. Police obtained video from the mall’s security system.
The regional police service has quick response officers that respond when incidents involving weapons are reported, MacKinnon said. Businesses and services near by Mayflower Mall, such as Canadian Blood Services, were also notified as a precaution, he said, with police officers put on “points of containment” in case the suspect was still in the area.
Mall manager Greg Morrison said there was a similar incident at the Mayflower Mall in the summer.
“Right now, there has been no threat made to Mayflower Mall, we’re just being extra cautious in this situation,” Morrison said.
In those sorts of situations, the mall follows the lead of police, Morrison added.
Because the alert was sounded before stores opened, there were few customers inside the mall at the time, he said.
Bewildered customers attempted to open the doors at various mall entrances while the lockdown was ongoing. Customers and mall employees milled around in the parking lot waiting for the mall to reopen.
Telus employee Angela Gracie sat on a bench outside the mall about a half hour before her 11 a.m. shift was due to start.
“I just got a text saying that someone from mall admin came around saying to shut the doors, just as a precaution until further notice … they said they heard someone was in the mall with a gun so they went and made sure everyone was in lockdown.
“One of my girls just told me the cops are walking around with guns, like big guns, right now, probably checking it out to see how it is.”
Customer Linda Gould of Sydney arrived at the mall to return a television but was told by another shopper of the lockdown.
"There was a lady that was parked right next to us and she told us we weren’t allowed in, she didn’t say why,” Gould said.