Joshua Cook received an unpleasant surprise on his way to a charity event a couple of weeks ago.
Cook, a member of the Pop N Eye Cosplay Costume Club, was headed to St. John’s Park for a charity event for the Children’s Wish Foundation in mid-August dressed as a character from the video game Halo: Reach.
To Cook’s surprise, his outfit, which resembles body armour, drew the attention of city police.
"I can understand why the cops are like that, but I was a little worried to see a tactical unit guy come out of a car," the St. Vital resident said at a recent charity event at St. John’s Park in the North End.
Cook said the recent shooting in Aurora, Colo. by a man wearing protective ballistic gear at a movie premiere may have people on edge.
"When I was walking down the street an old lady screamed at me, ‘Are you trying to be a terrorist?’" said Cook, who has been dressing up as different fictional characters for seven years.
"I think what the guy in Aurora did ruined it for a lot of people."
Debra Mahler, who operates Mahler Studios and Pop N Eye Toys and Collectables on Henderson Highway with her photographer husband Larry, said some people don’t want certain characters at gatherings because of recent incidents like the one in Colorado.
"Some people booking events have been having issues with certain characters," said Mahler, adding club members have been appearing at charity events for the last four years.
"People portray anything covering the face as a possible threat. At a recent event we were basically asked if Halo characters could not attend."
Mahler said she understands the concerns some people have, but doesn’t want costumers to endure negative attention.
"I definitely understand where people are coming from, but not all costumers are to be feared, and if recent events are changing the image of costumers it’s unfortunate," Mahler said.
Winnipeg police spokesperson Const. Jason Michalyshen said officers take all possible threats seriously.
"In this particular situation, we responded to an unusual situation where an individual was dressed in what appeared to be a sophisticated costume. There were some concerns regarding his apparel including a weapon in his possession," he said.
"Officers responded accordingly and made contact with this person. The meeting was friendly and appropriate advice was given regarding wearing this type of an outfit to and from certain events."
Mahler said group members will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure there isn’t a repeat of the incident.
"From now on we’ll pick him up and bring him to the event," she said.