A man doused in flammable liquid attempted to set himself on fire Wednesday inside the Winnipeg Police Service’s downtown headquarters.
At about 11:35 a.m. Wednesday, a man carrying a container and lighter entered the WPS’s duty office and doused himself with a "substantial amount" of an unidentified flammable liquid, police said.
The area was evacuated, while officers working at the front desk managed to take control of the man.
"We had a front counter full of officers and civilians and our officers were able to eventually gain control of the individual before he was able to ignite the fluid," said Const. Rob Carver, adding he couldn’t provide further details about the incident because officers hadn’t written their reports.
Police have not said if the man will be charged.
Police closed the station for the day. "Due to unforeseen circumstances the Winnipeg police HQ is closed to the public," read a sign at the entrance.
Asked of the intensity of the incident, Carver said most officers are on the job because they can react well to high-stress situations.
"They simply react, their training kicks in. They were able to bring the situation to a safe conclusion," he said. "I’m sure, afterward, everybody is full of adrenaline and shock, but I don’t think an officer that has training reacts the same way that a civilian would."
Carver noted the only other incident "remotely close" to Wednesday’s occurred in May last year.
"We had a male attend the station duty… and he had a gun, a handgun — it turned out to be a replica handgun — but he was wearing body armour and presented it. Our officers had to engage him and de-escalate that situation, which would’ve involved the presentation of firearms by our officers," he said.
"No shots were fired, they were able to get him under control without firing anything," Carver added.
The suspect in that case, a 43-year-old man, was arrested after officers confronted him and he threw the weapon to the ground. Police also found a tactical knife. He was charged with two counts of possessing a weapon, carrying a concealed weapon and possessing body armour without a valid permit or in a manner inconsistent with the valid permit.
Erik Pindera reports for the city desk, with a particular focus on crime and justice.