An hours-long standoff between police officers and a 37-year-old woman at an apartment building in Saanich ended in the use of tear gas and her subsequent arrest.
In a statement on Monday, Saanich Police said they responded to reports that a woman was “causing a disturbance” from her apartment at 3225 Eldon Pl in Saanich at around 7:15 a.m. on the morning of Monday, July 6.
According to police, the woman had threatened to burn down the building, had incendiary devices, made threats to other residents, and later threatened police with a weapon.
“She had lit something on fire on her balcony, and had a lighter in her possession,” said Cst. Markus Anastasiades in a phone call with Victoria Buzz.
“Last week, she had started a fire as well so police knew she was capable of carrying out the threats she uttered.”
In the first step, officers evacuated residents in nearby suites, and the Greater Victoria Emergency Response Team along with crisis negotiators were called in.
After several hours of negotiation, police say the talks broke down and at 12:30 p.m., GVERT made the decision to use tear gas as a way to compel the woman to leave her suite and then took her into custody.
Police say the woman was not injured during the arrest but was taken to hospital to be treated for exposure to tear gas.
When asked about the decision to use tear gas, Anastasiades stated that he cannot comment on the specific tactics used by GVERT.
“That being said, there were several safety concerns that arouse during the call, including the possession of a weapon, that ultimately led to the decision to deploy gas to effect an arrest in the safest way possible for everyone involved. Using gas in barricaded person situations is quite common,” he added in a statement to Victoria Buzz.
Officers are now continuing their investigation into the incident and gathering evidence from other residents of the building.
According to Anastasiades, officers have responded to nearly 40 calls for service involving this particular individual over the past two months, nearly all of which were mental health calls.
He adds that she will go back into police custody once she is discharged from hospital.
Police are considering charges of Uttering Threats, Mischief to Property, and the Possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose.