SEPT-ÎLES, Que. — A man who triggered a police manhunt across a northeastern Quebec town on Tuesday, leading to municipal buildings closing and schools going under lockdown, was carrying a toy gun, police have confirmed.
Provincial police Sgt. Hugues Beaulieu said the man in his 20s surrendered following a brief discussion with officers and was arrested in Sept-Îles, Que., about 900 kilometres northeast of Montreal. The suspect was handcuffed and taken to a police station for questioning, Beaulieu said, adding that it was too early to say whether he will be charged.
"From our end, we were able to establish (after the arrest) that it was a toy gun," Beaulieu said in an interview.
Earlier on Tuesday, provincial police asked people to stay indoors while officers searched the town of about 25,000 people for the man, whom they thought could be armed. They published a photo taken by a citizen of a masked man who appeared to be carrying a silver-barrelled firearm, roaming the streets of Sept-Îles and who was dressed in black clothes, wearing gloves and carrying a backpack.
Beaulieu said there were no reports of injuries, adding that the photo did not allow investigators to determine whether the man was carrying a functional firearm or not.
"Whether it was a toy weapon, a dummy weapon or a real firearm, we cannot take a chance for the sake of public safety," Beaulieu said. "So we had to act as if it were real, as if it were functional and that is why we have closed off the area and many (officers) were involved in the task of finding this individual."
The police operation resulted in elementary schools being put under lockdown and municipal buildings being closed. Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé and Energy Minister Jonatan Julien cancelled a news conference in that city Tuesday morning about renovations to a local hospital.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 16, 2021.
The Canadian Press