On July 13, 2020, at approximately 12:05 PM, officers were dispatched to the 100 block of Queen Street regarding a male who was causing damage to a multi-unit complex and was exhibiting other concerning behaviour.
Once officers arrived on scene the 34-year-old male in question had run into an upstairs unit and barricaded himself inside. MHEART members (Mental Health Engagement and Response Team), consisting of a crisis nurse from the Canadian Mental Health Association and an officer trained in crisis intervention attended to assist in the incident. Road officers were also assisted by members of the Sarnia Police Service Emergency Response Team (ERT) who had also attended.
The individual continued to refuse to exit the apartment and began throwing items out at the officers. Items that were thrown included a TV, flower pots, etc.
The individual had also barricaded the stairwell to the apartment which was the only entry point into the unit making it impossible for officers to climb up the stairs. To add to the confusion, the man began blaring music, making verbal communication very difficult. Officers had to shut the power to the unit off to be able to converse with the individual. The crisis nurse and the assisting officers continued their efforts to encourage the individual to exit the unit.
During the negotiations, officers began to notice flames and smoke from the unit and realized that a fire had been started. Officers immediately began evacuating occupants in the complex and nearby residents.
By this point, the individual was out at the back window talking to the police from the second floor. It became obvious that the smoke and fire were beginning to overwhelm him but he was still very reluctant to exit. Fortunately, through further verbal negotiations with the crisis nurse and officers, they were able to de-escalate the situation to the point that the man was able to lower himself safely to the ground as officers had set up a mattress on the ground for him to land on.
The individual was then transported to the hospital for observation and treatment, where he remains.
Fire arrived on the scene shortly after the man had exited the building and proceeded to extinguish the fire which had ultimately caused significant damage to the top floor.
The investigation into this matter is continuing.