Edmonton City Hall shooter was ‘heavily armed’ with long gun, Molotov cocktails: police chief

One ‘heavily armed’ suspect was arrested after shooting a gun multiple times inside Edmonton City Hall, according to Edmonton’s police chief. Laura Krause has the details of the shooting.

Edmonton police are describing the suspect who allegedly fired several shots inside city hall and triggered a lockdown Tuesday as “heavily armed” with a long gun and multiple Molotov cocktails.

Police believe the suspect entered city hall through the parkade before firing multiple shots and shattering glass on the second floor of the municipal building. He allegedly started a small fire outside an elevator.

He was arrested and no injuries were reported.

“‘Heavily’ means that some thought went into it,” Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee said at a press conference, though he could not speak to the suspect’s motive.

He described the weapon as “a gun that could file multiple fire multiple rounds quickly,” adding it was too early to tell how the suspect acquired it.

McFee says the suspect was “detained” by an unarmed security guard while officers, who “got there within mere minutes,” were on the way.

“I’m not sure if it was a tackle or what it was… he went above and beyond his job in relation to help minimize the impact and for that we’re grateful,” McFee said of the security guard.

“The event has since concluded and I would like to reassure the public that we believe this individual acted alone,” he added of the suspect. “There is no indication that there were accomplices and there are no further concerns for public safety.”

Edmonton City Hall taped off after a weapons complaint Jan. 23, 2024. (Laura Krause, CityNews)

McFee says it appears the suspect was “shooting randomly” — not at people — though “interviews in the coming days” would shed more light on the incident.

“We’re incredibly lucky today that there are no reported injuries and no lives have been lost,” he said.

The police chief did not reveal if the suspect was known to law enforcement.

“Those are things that we’re going to have to figure out in the days to come,” McFee said.

Police say they were first notified around 10:25 a.m. that shots were fired in the building, which was quickly put on lockdown. Surrounding roads were closed and residents were asked to avoid the area.

City councillors were in the middle of an emergency advisory committee meeting in the River Valley Room when it ended abruptly.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi was speaking with city administration when the shots could be heard in the distance, as captured by the City of Edmonton’s livestream.

“If we can please follow all the way up to the councillors’ area or up in the stairwell,” a voice can be heard saying shortly after.

“Yes we are recessed,” the mayor says before the livestream cuts out.

LISTEN: Shots fired inside Edmonton City Hall

McFee says it’s too early in the investigation to determine if the suspect knew a meeting was taking place in the building.

Mayor Sohi tweeted while the situation was unfolding, calling it “serious” and urging the public to stay away.

Coun. Aaron Paquette, who was one of the councillors at the meeting in person, echoed the mayor’s plea for people to “avoid the area.”

The threat was later lifted and roads reopened, though officers still remained on the scene around 3 p.m.

Premier Smith, Minister Ellis commend Edmonton police officers

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith said she was thankful nobody was physically injured.

“I want to express my deepest gratitude for the swift work of the Edmonton Police Service in responding to today’s incident at the City of Edmonton,” she tweeted.

“My thoughts are with all city employees and their families at this time.”

Mike Ellis, Alberta’s minister of public safety and emergency services, congratulated Edmonton police officers for dealing with an “active shooter” at city hall.

“My understanding, this is part of an active investigation, and I cannot express my gratitude to first responders,” Ellis told CityNews from Calgary.

Ellis said there is “a lot of information that we don’t know right now,” including the suspect’s motivation.

Edmonton city manager Andre Corbould says the city will support police with the investigation.

“City Hall is a welcoming and open space for Edmontonians, and today’s incident was an unfortunate and unusual change in that tradition,” Corbould said in a statement. “Like all public buildings, there are safety protocols and procedures in place.

“Thanks to those protocols, the diligent staff who implemented them, and the professional actions of our Peace Officers, the Edmonton Police Service and Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, no one was physically harmed. I thank them all for their support.

“We will reopen City Hall and return to conducting government business as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Grade 1 students on field trip

An Edmonton Public Schools Grade 1 class was at city hall for a field trip when the shooting happened, the school board confirmed to CityNews.

“Prior to the lockdown, the class had been split into two groups for separate activities,” EPSB communications consultant Veronica Jubinville said in a an email. “When the lockdown was called, one group of students was kept inside City Hall chambers with a staff member, while the other group of students was kept inside the Stanley Milner Library with a staff member.”

After police gave them the green light, students and staff were moved to an ETS bus and returned to school safely, Jubinville says.

“This incident may have caused distress for those on the field trip,” she added. “The Division’s Critical Incident Support Services (CISS) team will be available to provide support in the coming days.”

Police vehicle outside Edmonton City Hall after a weapons complaint Jan. 23, 2024. (Rod Maldaner, CityNews)

While there were no physical injuries, Chief McFee acknowledge the trauma that can be associated with such events.

“I don’t want to minimize the impact this has for those who were present at city hall today including the class of Grade 1 students,” McFee said. “Active shooter events like this have lasting effects on our community. And in the days that come we’ll be working closely with our partners to navigate that.”

“City Hall was also hosting various guests and meetings, including a class of grade 1 students,” added Coun. Paquette in a tweet. “All are safe, but the emotional impact of this event will definitely be affecting those who were at City Hall, and their friends and families, as well as members of the public.”

Corbould says support will be offered to staff “who are facing challenges in processing” the events.

A committee meeting at city hall scheduled for Tuesday afternoon was cancelled, as well as two meetings on the agenda for Wednesday.

–With files from Laura Krause, Carly Robinson and Nick Blakeney

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