RCMP investigates whether swatting linked to police incident at Metrotown
Swatting involves fake emergency calls being made to provoke a large response from police and other agencies.
Burnaby RCMP provided further details into the police incident that unfolded at Metrotown mall on Friday afternoon, stating they are currently investigating if swatting (placing fake emergency calls to invoke a large response from police) may have been involved.
According to a Friday evening update from police, the Metrotown area was cleared of any active threat, following unconfirmed reports of shots being fired at the mall and a pipe bomb threat at Metrotown SkyTrain station earlier that day. Mall patrons were evacuated amidst chaos and confusion.
Witnesses told the Beacon that an announcement over the PA system told people to evacuate but didn’t tell them why, and that police burst into the mall with guns drawn shouting at them to leave immediately. There was chaos inside the mall as people ran to evacuate, and witnesses said there was a general sense of panic.
“A careful grid search was then conducted inside the mall, with the assistance of the Emergency Response Team,” stated Burnaby RCMP. “No threat was found, and there were no injuries. The incident at Metrotown Station was also determined to be unfounded.”
Although the mall was given an all-clear on Friday around 6:30pm, it remained closed until the morning.
Burnaby RCMP said it is currently investigating the source of the call placed to police and if it is linked to swatting, which is a criminal offence in Canada.
“We understand this was a dynamic and distressing situation for the public and those in the area, with customers and staff taking shelter in stores in the mall, and others evacuating from the building,” said Cpl. Mike Kalanj with Burnaby RCMP, in a statement.
“We are thankful this isn’t a situation that is often faced in Canada, and are grateful this call was unfounded and nobody was hurt.”
Port Moody police are also investigating another “unfounded” event that occurred on Friday following a bomb threat at Seaview Elementary. One suspect has been arrested in connection to that incident.
Authorities are working together to determine if there are any connections between the cases and if the same suspect was involved.
With files from Srushti Gangdev.