Oxford OPP lay charges after Tavistock assault

Police arrested a 52-year-old man after being called to a business in Tavistock last week.

On Tuesday, May 14 at about 9 a.m., police received a report of an individual with an edged weapon in downtown Tavistock. Police attended the area and arrested a 52-year-old from Zorra Township at Tim Horton’s.

No injuries were reported and police say the male was charged with assault with a weapon, possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose and failing to comply with a probation order.

What the press release from the OPP doesn’t say is the suspect was given a warning by officers approximately 15 minutes before the alleged assault. Several witnesses called the OPP complaining someone was acting erratically at the five-corner intersection. One witness reached out to the Gazette and wished to remain anonymous.

“He was just outside the laundromat around 8:40 a.m., no shoes on and a bandana tied around his face. He was kicking poles and punching the walls and signs while the children were walking through to go to school. I called it in for the concern that the children felt unsafe.”

Police arrived, but the witness was told they couldn’t lay charges based on the original disturbance. Around 15 minutes later, there was another report of the suspect in Tim Horton’s.

“I only know of the second interaction because the officer who reported both times followed up with me yesterday afternoon through a phone call. I just told him it was unfortunate that the second interaction occurred when it could have been avoided if something had been done on the first call. The officer said they gave him a warning and (told him) if they were called again, he would be going in.”

They added the situation was scary based on how the male was behaving in front of children and he looked to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The Gazette heard from a second witness who also wanted their name withheld. They said the biggest concern was the safety of children and parents on their way to school and added crossing guards at the main intersection put the safety of those crossing first and foremost.

“The guards got them out of the intersection and away from the chance of anything happening. He seemed to be in his own world at that time and wasn’t going up to anyone. I’m not sure if it was a mental health issue or drugs, he was just acting erratically. He commented to police he thought he was in Stratford.”

They added the suspect should have been taken out of the area to get help.

“It’s not like he did any harm to anyone from what I saw, but it could have progressed. There’s a lot of stuff going on in the main intersection of Tavistock and of course it was a peak time when the kids were all coming and traffic was very busy.

Provincial police added they want to thank members of the public for their assistance with the incident.

Lee Griffi, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Wilmot-Tavistock Gazette