(West Shore RCMP)

Reports of an armed man prompted Westshore Town Centre to lock down on Monday, with West Shore RCMP responding to the “high-risk situation.”

Just after 5 p.m. on March 21st, RCMP received a report from a witness stating a man had allegedly shown him a handgun near the shopping centre in Langford. 

Responding officers located and arrested a man matching the description provided by the witness inside the mall. 

The mall was locked down to the public while  RCMP and police dogs conducted a search for the reported handgun. 

During the search, a Glock 19 replica BB gun was located near where the suspect was arrested. 

“The Glock was all black and did not display an orange tip, it could have easily been mistaken for its real counterpart,” said Constable Zane Shelby of the West Shore RCMP.

After arresting the suspect, RCMP learned he was already on a probation order that included conditions not to possess a weapon, including BB/pellet guns. 

Witnesses who were at the mall at the time of the incident said security officers were ushering shoppers out of the building as police blocked all exits of the  centre. 

The order came after a conviction in November 2021 where the suspect was arrested for assault with a weapon, theft and possession of property obtained in a crime. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail for that incident.

The suspect, 32-year-old John Crawford of Esquimalt, was convicted on March 22nd for possession of a weapon for dangerous purpose and was sentenced to 90 days in jail. 

“It is unknown as to why the suspect brought the BB gun with them to a mall and what their intentions were,” said Cst Meghan Groulx, spokesperson for the West Shore RCMP.

“Thank you to the frontline officers for having the situation under control in minutes and thank you to the public for your cooperation in exiting the mall, allowing space for the officers to continue their investigation.”

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