RCMP in Yellowknife issued a statement on Tuesday warning residents: “Bear spray is for bears, not to commit mischief.”
Police have dealt with a number of recent incidents in Yellowknife where bear spray was reported to have been used, despite a clear absence of bears.
RCMP said that’s a “serious offence” and bear spray carried to injure or incapacitate another person is a prohibited weapon under the Criminal Code of Canada.
In the same news release, police confirmed an incident on Monday at Crestview Manor – a downtown apartment building – involved what they believe to be bear spray.
Police, fire crews, and emergency medical services arrived at around 5:30pm on Monday after a report about an odour from the third floor, according to Tuesday’s news release.
RCMP said residents were evacuated while the fire division decontaminated the building using pressure fans. Nobody was injured or “specifically targeted,” police wrote. No suspect has been identified and the investigation is ongoing.
This is at least the third incident reportedly involving bear spray in the city over the past month.
Police believe bear spray was discharged in a Gitzel Street apartment building on September 20. In an unrelated incident pn September 21, a woman and man were allegedly sprayed with bear spray at a residence at Sissons Court.
Chris Kaminesky, 35, was arrested in relation to that alleged assault. He faces charges including assault with a weapon and break-and-enter with intent.
“There have been a few incidents involving bear spray lately in Yellowknife,” Sgt Yannick Hamel, from the Yellowknife detachment, stated on Tuesday.
A young black bear, not found at the scene of any recent Yellowknife bear spray discharges. Photo: ENR
“These calls are taken seriously and they monopolize valuable resources that could be used elsewhere in the event of an actual emergency.”
Police ask anyone with information about the incident at Crestview Manor to call the Yellowknife RCMP at 867-669-1111 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.