Calgary police release description and photo of Peace Bridge vandal

·3 min read
CCTV image of the suspect in the vandalism of Calgary's peace bridge Sunday night. (Calgary Police Service - image credit)
CCTV image of the suspect in the vandalism of Calgary's peace bridge Sunday night. (Calgary Police Service - image credit)

Calgary police have released images of a man with a hammer who was spotted smashing glass panes on the Peace Bridge early Sunday morning.

Approximately 70 glass panes were damaged, police say.

Police received a call around 4:15 a.m. Sunday of a man vandalizing the popular pedestrian bridge, Staff Sgt. John Guigon told CBC News.

Guigon said police did chase the man on foot but lost him.

Police released a more detailed description of the suspect Monday afternoon. He was described as a 50- to 60-year-old man standing 5-6 to 5-9, with a slim build and weighing about 150 pounds. He had a full mustache.

The suspect was last seen wearing a dark-coloured baseball cap with a white logo, a blue sweater with white or reflective stripes on the shoulders and jeans.

Guigon said the man may have had a shopping cart at one point, but police did not see one when they arrived on scene.

The suspect was last seen heading toward the alley between First and Second Avenues N.W. and was believed to be walking near Eighth and Ninth Streets N.W., according to a release.

Jo Horwood/CBC
Jo Horwood/CBC

Police do have some surveillance footage of the scene, Guigon said, and their investigation into the incident is ongoing. They are asking any witnesses in the area who they have not spoken to yet or anyone with security camera footage in the area to contact Calgary police.

Police allege the same man is responsible for an earlier vandalism incident on the Peace Bridge in June when only one glass pane was damaged.

Guigon said vandalism happens around the city regularly, but this event was unusual.

"There's been other vandalisms on that bridge in the past, but not to the same level as this one," he said.

Jo Horwood/CBC
Jo Horwood/CBC

Guigon said police have promising leads in their investigation and he thinks the case "may be solvable."

"Really it's probably a person abusing drugs or alcohol, I suspect, is what it comes down to, or [someone] experiencing some sort of emotional crisis and acting out."

Ward 7 Coun. Terry Wong said about 80 per cent of the bridge's side panels have been damaged.

He said repairs will be "extremely expensive." The city already spends roughly $80,000 a year to remove and replace broken panels on the Peace Bridge, with an average of six broken each year.

Wong said there are extra panels in stock to replace the smashed glass, but he is unsure if there is enough supply to cover the extent of damage this incident caused. The timeline for fixing the damage is not known at this point, according to Wong.

An ongoing problem

In June, the city announced it had hired a consultant to find alternative material options to the bridge's glass panels. Recommendations are expected in the fall.

About a month ago, the city also put up posters on the bridge to discourage vandalism.

"Whether that's made a difference or not I think it's a little early to say," Wong said about the posters.

"I think we need to get the message out … that these assets are very much cherished by all Calgarians and tourists and visitors."

Wong said he encourages people to report any acts of vandalism they observe.

Jo Horwood/CBC
Jo Horwood/CBC

Calgary resident Yonas Libah, who rode his bike by the Peace Bridge and saw the damage on Sunday, said the posters are important for informing the public, but hanging them right on the bridge might not be the most effective.

"I think the posters are great but they are in the wrong location," he said.

Coming out of pandemic restrictions, there are a lot more people enjoying the city's parks and outdoor venues, according to Wong.

"We hate to destroy that enjoyment by having people destroy the amenities that we pay a lot of taxes for."

Wong said there are measures the city could look at to enhance security at the bridge, including more video surveillance or adding emergency call buttons people could press if they spot an act of vandalism.

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