Update (Friday, Aug. 20, 2021 at 5:20 p.m.):
One man has been arrested and charged following the suspicious and violent incident that resulted in the evacuation of the Westtown Centre plaza on Bath Road across from Frontenac Secondary School.
According to Kingston Police, the incident began at approximately 6:08 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, when the accused man called 911 and advised the dispatcher there was a bomb on the roof of a specific business within the plaza.
“He requested that police attend immediately however would not provide any further information. Police were also contacted by the owner of this same business who indicated that the accused was observed to be in possession of a knife and was now threatening individuals inside the premises,” Kingston Police said in a press release on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021.
The accused man, a volunteer with the NDP office within the plaza, had initially been observed acting irrationally outside of the Loyal Oarsman by staff there, according to police and witnesses. Police said the man then entered the business and made threats towards customers before being escorted from the property by employees.
“He returned outside of the business shortly after with a knife in hand and held the male victim from behind while placing the knife to the victim’s neck. The accused made threats to kill the victim as he attempted to reenter the business while still holding the knife to his neck,” police said.
The victim was able to break free without being injured, according to police, and the accused man then proceeded to walk back inside the Loyal Oarsman, waving his knife and continuing to make threats to kill individuals who were inside.
“Fearing for the safety and the lives of other customers inside the business, brave patrons and staff intervened and were able to subdue the accused until police arrived and took him into custody,” Kingston Police said. “Police also searched the roof of the business and found no incendiary devices.”
As a result, the 35-year-old Kingston man was arrested and transported to hospital for treatment. He has been charged with:
- Assault with a weapon
- Forcible confinement
- Two counts of uttering threats to cause death
- conveying false information with intent to alarm
- possessing a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence
A suspicious and violent incident involving threats resulted in the evacuation of all businesses in the Westtown Centre shopping plaza on Bath Road.
The incident, which began at approximately 6 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, saw a very large presence of Kingston Police vehicles and personnel, as well as Frontenac Paramedics, who eventually transported one adult male to hospital under police escort. The cause of his injuries is unknown at this time, however, they appeared to be non-life-threatening in nature.
By 6:15 p.m. that night, all of the businesses within the plaza had evacuated, including all of the staff and patrons at the Loyal Oarsman, some of whom reported that there was a man making threats with a knife and referring to a bomb.
Pamela Latimer said she was one of the patrons at the Loyal Oarsman at the time of the incident. “He walked in and said there was a bomb on the roof,” she said.
“Staff wrestled him out the back door,” Latimer continued. “We and the next table heard him say bomb. We searched for our waitress to get our bills to get out of there…We wanted out of there as fast as possible. He came back in the front door wielding a knife and said he was going to kill everyone.”
Over the next half hour, Kingston Police combed the area, searched the rooftops of the businesses, and spoke with those present. Police have not confirmed what sort of threats were made, nor where those threats were directed at time of publication.
The local provincial NDP, however, is speaking out about the incident.
“Yesterday afternoon a serious incident involving a volunteer from our campaign occurred. The police were involved and the situation was brought under control. To our knowledge, everyone is safe,” the NDP for Kingston and the Islands said in a statement on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021.
“Our campaign will work to support the well-being of our volunteer and everyone in our community impacted by this incident.”
The Loyal Oarsman made the “easy decision” to remain closed on Friday, Aug. 20, 2021, the restaurant said in a post to social media.
“Although we would love to see you all – the care of our family (by family we mean staff) is way more important than being open on a Friday. Our thoughts are also with all of our patrons who experienced what transpired. We’ve had a very restless night thinking of you all,” the restaurant and pub said.
“Heartfelt thank you to the Kingston City Police, Paramedics, all of our patrons, and the community for your messages and kind words over the last few hours. Thank you all for your understanding and apologize for any inconvenience.”
By 7 p.m. on Thursday night, Kingston Police had swept the rooftops for any suspicious items, but found none. The majority of officers were cleared and tenants were permitted to enter their premises shortly after 7 p.m.
Kingston Police have yet to make a formal statement on this incident. Kingstonist will update this article as more information becomes available.