Times Colonist

Misused fireworks mistaken for gunfire

Police respond in force to reports of man with a gun at downtown hotel

- JEFF BELL

Reports of a possible gunshot and a man with a rifle at a downtown hotel yesterday morning turned out to be a likely case of misused firecracke­rs or fireworks.

Traffic piled up as Victoria police blocked off the 700block of Johnson Street, between Douglas and Blanshard, for about 50 minutes while they checked out the possibilit­y of a gunman at the York Hotel.

Police described the hotel as a facility with affordable rates, and a home to many long-term residents.

Victoria police Sgt. Grant Hamilton said officers responded after a call from the York’s front desk about 10:30 a.m. about a sighting of what appeared to be a man in possession of a rifle. A suspected gunshot was reported soon after.

“We responded with most of our resources here,” he said from the sidewalk outside the hotel. “We had over a dozen members here, including members of our Rapid Response Team.”

Occupants were either evacuated or told to remain in their rooms, and three men from 20 to 30 years old were detained and taken for questionin­g, Hamilton said. He said all of the men are well-known to police.

“It turns out that what we have here is possibly firecracke­rs or fireworks that were let off in the hallway, and that’s what people were reporting as a gunshot. There has been no weapon recovered, so we’re unsure how that informatio­n came about.”

Police continued to look into the weapon report during the day.

Hamilton said it is important to respond to such reports with appropriat­e force. “It can always be downgraded, but obviously our primary concern is making sure [about] public safety and that’s why we had all these officers here.”

Charges are still being considered.

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