Fredericton man arrested near campus area, students concerned

    Armed Fredericton police move across a property during a day-long standoff near College Hill. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    Nikita Popli, a University of New Brunswick student, had a front-row seat to watch police surround a house where a man barricaded himself inside with guns, knives and a bulletproof vest.

    Popli, who lives on Gregg Court, said it’s scary to hear somebody living on her street had weapons.

    “We could be walking [on] the street at night coming back from university or from work. God forbid if something could have happened to any of us, there are a lot of students living on the street,” she said.

    What happened

    The Fredericton Police Force arrested a 28-year-old man in possession of firearms on Gregg Court, after the area surrounding Windsor, College Hill and Montgomery was on lockdown for almost eight hours.

    No shots were fired and no one was injured or held hostage. The Fredericton Police Force’s crisis negotiator team worked with the emergency response team to negotiate with the individual.

    “They use their skills that they’re trained to do in order to negotiate with someone to peacefully connect,” said Insp. Kimberly Quartermain, who was in charge of the scene.

    The man was found with two long guns, a bulletproof vest and knives. Quartermain said the Fredericton Police Force’s major crime unit will execute a search warrant, but it’s unknown whether there are any additional items.

    At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Quartermain said police received a phone call at 7:40 a.m. from a neighbour who saw the male carrying a firearm.

    The individual barricaded himself in his home, a two-unit residence where a family lives upstairs and the man and his three roommates live downstairs. The family and the roommates were evacuated by police.

    “There’s no indication that he held anybody there against him,” she said.

    Police locked down and evacuated the area to isolate the man. Residents who couldn’t be evacuated were asked to stay inside.

    Inspector Kimberley Quartermain from the Fredericton police addresses the media on Oct. 22. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    Quartermain said the police shut down the area because of the schools, daycares and government buildings close to the residence.

    They negotiated with him until 3:40 p.m., when he voluntarily exited his residence and Fredericton Police took him into custody.

    Quartermain couldn’t confirm whether the individual was a student at St. Thomas University, UNB or the New Brunswick Community College.

    On Wednesday night, police also responded to a call regarding a collision near the campus area. Upon arrival, police seized a firearm from the vehicle but no driver was present.

    “We then received another call from a member of the community who located an additional firearm,” Quartermain said, adding she couldn’t confirm whether the incidents from Wednesday and Thursday were connected.

    Lockdown at STU

    María Leiva, a third-year STU student, was walking from her apartment on Regent Street to campus at around 7:45 a.m. Thursday when she noticed police vehicles. When she arrived at the James Dunn Hall computer lab for her work shift, one of the members of STU’s IT Department told her the university was going on lockdown.

    Leiva said she was constantly refreshing Twitter and the local news. She spent around four hours in lockdown at the university.

    “It was a pretty stressful morning,” she said.

    At around 8:15 a.m., STU released a statement warning students, faculty and staff not to come to campus due to a police presence. They also spread the message through social media.

    Jeffrey Carleton, STU’s associate vice-president communications, said as faculty and staff arrived Thursday morning to campus, a number of police cars were noticed at the top of Windsor Street in the Brian Mulroney and Holy Cross parking lot.

    “It was at that point that we were notified that it was a circumstance that required us to tell faculty, staff and students either to stay away from campus this morning, or if you’re on campus to shelter in place,” he said.

    In the meantime, Facilities Management locked the buildings on campus to shelter students, faculty and staff. Carleton said faculty and staff also locked their office doors. Later, the lockdown evolved into a hold and secure situation, where people could walk within the buildings but not leave.

    At a press conference shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday, Fredericton Police Sgt. Dwight Doyle said the area was contained. Those who were in their houses on Windsor were locked up and everyone who was able to get out did.

    “We have negotiators talking to the person now and we’re trying to resolve it peacefully,” he told reporters.

    Fredericton Police Sgt. Dwight Doyle said he can’t confirm if the residence in question belongs to St. Thomas University. (Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    Doyle said the Fredericton Police’s response team involved the major crimes unit, control response and notification services. The team included patrols, an identification section, an emergency response team and an RCMP K9 unit. Around 20 members of Fredericton Police were in training this morning and were also sent to the scene.

    At around 1 p.m., STU said in an email that students who wished to leave campus were allowed to do so through designated exits but couldn’t return once they left. Three hours later, the universities said regular operations had resumed.

    Leiva was able to leave safely.

    “When I got home, I was like ‘oh my God, I made it,'” she said.

    Next steps

    Quartermain confirmed the individual has a criminal record and charges have yet to be determined. She said if the man doesn’t meet the conditions of release, he will be taken to court on Friday. If he does, he’ll be released with a court date.

    Quartermain said at the scene, the man disclosed that he injured himself. The police station’s mental health coordinator was on scene assisting.

    “He was asked if he wanted medical attention and he didn’t require medical attention,” she said.

    After the man was arrested, police updated residents in the area on the situation. Police said it was safe to go out but officers would stick around for safety, said Popli. She said she thinks it was kind of the police to update them.

    Popli, who is an international student from India, said she always thought Fredericton was a much safer city than anywhere else.

    But she’s not too sure anymore.

    “I don’t know how I would feel walking alone in the street at night now.”

    Still, Quartermain said it was a successful day.

    “Hopefully, the community feels like the police responded and did a good job.”

    With files from Aaron Sousa.