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Nanaimo hospital locked down after threat

Police and Nanaimo Regional General Hospital staff locked down the hospital shortly after 5 p.m. Tuesday after receiving a weapons threat.

Erring on the side of caution, police blocked off all hospital entrances, although ambulance crews were able to access the emergency ward. Mounties tracked down and arrested the suspect several kilometres from the hospital shortly before 6 p.m.

Sgt. Sheryl Armstrong, Nanaimo RCMP spokeswoman, said she did not know what kind of weapon the 39-year-old Nanaimo man allegedly threatened the hospital with, but he did not have a weapon with him at the time of his arrest.

“Our first consideration is always public safety,” Armstrong said. “We’re not going to lock down something like that unless we believe a weapon could be utilized.”

Police are not commenting on the suspect’s relationship to the hospital, but Armstrong confirmed he is not an employee of NRGH. Police were able to locate the suspect quickly because his identity was given to them.

“Police are still in the early stages of their investigation and there’s more work to be done,” Armstrong said. “We’re still in the process of determining whether charges will be forwarded to Crown counsel.”

Valerie Wilson, Island Health spokeswoman, said the next steps include debriefing sessions to review the incident, determine lessons that can be learned and any recommendations regarding violence prevention protocols.

A bomb threat also had the hospital on lockdown for a short time on Wednesday.

Wilson said NRGH received a bomb threat in the early afternoon and that police gave the all clear at about 1 p.m. The investigation into that incident continues.

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