Nanaimo RCMP are warning the public of the dangers of replica handguns after an increase of them on the streets in recent weeks.
This warning comes after an incident on June 7th at around 1:30 p.m., when police responded to reports of a man who had broken into a barn on a rural property on Maughan Road, south of Nanaimo.
When confronted by the owner of the property, the suspect produced what appeared to be a large handgun before fleeing in a vehicle.
An officer quickly intercepted the suspect’s vehicle, attempting to initiate a traffic stop but the driver sped off.
A short time later, another officer came across a vehicle weaving and driving directly at his police vehicle, and the suspect’s vehicle crashed into the front grill of the officer’s vehicle causing airbags to deploy.
The officer, although shaken, managed to exit his vehicle and take control of the suspect without incident.
Additional officers and paramedics arrived on scene. The suspect was treated for a significant cut to his forehead and subsequently arrested.
The suspect’s vehicle, described as an older model grey Jeep, was searched for weapons and evidence.
A Remington 1875 BB gun resembling a 357 Magnum handgun was found on the floor of the front passenger side of the vehicle.
Power tools, which were later confirmed to be stolen from the barn, as well as a crack pipe were also found in the vehicle.
The officer was not injured and was able to keep working.
The suspect was identified as 34-year-old Christopher Bergsma of Nanaimo, a prohibited driver with warrants for his arrest issued out of Sidney and Saanich.
On June 8th, charges were formally laid against Bergsma for break and enter, possession of break in tools, dangerous driving, failing to stop and breach of court order x4.
According to Nanaimo RCMP, more and more replica handguns are being seen on the streets.
“Whether they are found in possession by criminals or with youth simply trying to impress their friends, it is not something we take lightly,” said Constable Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.
“What these individuals do not realize is that police officers will always treat them as real firearms until such time they are proven otherwise. With that in mind, these calls could end with tragic consequences.”
Bergsma was remanded until June 14th to await his next court appearance.
When the court proceedings are concluded, the replica firearm will be destroyed.