Calgary city hall closed after person broke in, lit multiple fires

·2 min read
Several Calgary Fire Department vehicles were parked outside the Calgary Municipal Building on Tuesday morning.  (Rebecca Kelly/CBC - image credit)
Several Calgary Fire Department vehicles were parked outside the Calgary Municipal Building on Tuesday morning. (Rebecca Kelly/CBC - image credit)

Calgary police say they have taken one man into custody after he broke into the city's municipal building and lit multiple fires.

Officers were called around 4 a.m. Tuesday for reports of a man brandishing a weapon and setting fire to several areas inside the building, according to a release.

Police said they believe he gained access to the building by smashing the glass exterior in the front of the building while carrying a large, edged weapon.

"Once inside, he began to light fires throughout the building while becoming increasingly more agitated and aggressive," the release said.

Police say one man has been taken into custody and taken to hospital following "multiple attempts to subdue" him.

The man is a client of the Police and Crisis Team, the release said, adding "he is now getting the care he needs."

"While in many cases intervention and co-ordination through our partnership is successful in avoiding a mental health crisis becoming a police matter, unfortunately, there are instances that are violent in nature and require an adequate police response," said Supt. Asif Rashid.

As of about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, the building remained closed to the public.

Water damage in building

The sprinkler system inside the building was triggered, causing water damage on the third floor, according to a news release from the city.

The city says some services will move temporarily to other locations because of the water damage. The fair entry, cashier services and taxation services desks will be located temporarily on the third floor of the Central Library.

Rebecca Kelly/CBC
Rebecca Kelly/CBC

The planning and development desk will be moved to the main floor of the Whitehorn Multi-Services Centre in northeast Calgary. However, these services were not expected to be operational until Thursday, the new release said.

Security issues

At a Tuesday news conference, Mayor Jyoti Gondek said city hall is facing the same safety concerns as other businesses in downtown Calgary.

"As a municipal building, we have to be as accessible to the public as possible," she said.

"But at the same time, what we're seeing is that our security staff is sometimes put into high alert because we are such an accessible building."

Gondek said what's most needed to prevent security issues like this is more mental health funding from the provincial government.

"We need help. We need our provincial partners to really step up and give us the mental health supports, the health-care supports that we need."

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