Man charged in Edmonton hostage-taking

A 38-year-old man has been charged after Wednesday's hostage-taking at the Workers' Compensation Board in Edmonton.

Accused gunman described as injured, out of work

Patrick Charles Clayton faces numerous charges. ((Courtesy Edmonton Journal))

A carpenter out of work because of an injury has been charged after a hostage-taking at the Workers' Compensation Board in downtown Edmonton, police said Thursday.

Patrick Charles Clayton, 38, faces nine counts of unlawful confinement, six counts of pointing a firearm and charges of possession of an offensive weapon dangerous to the public, careless use and storage of a firearm and use of a firearm during the commission of an offence.

Clayton's first court appearance is scheduled for Friday morning.

On Thursday, Edmonton Police released more details of the incident.

A man with a rifle entered the WCB building at 107th Street and 99th Avenue on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. local time and took nine hostages, police said.

At a news conference Thursday afternoon, Insp. Neil Dubord of Edmonton police confirmed the man had reached "a point in his relationship with WCB that he perceived it required drastic action to resolve."

The man who entered the building had a high-powered rifle and "many rounds" of ammunition, Dubord said.

"As he entered the front doors, he fired off one round that went into a cinder-block wall. No one was hurt from this round, and at this time we are not sure if it was intended to hit anyone."

9 hostages

After the shot was fired, the man ordered people to get into the elevator with him and they went to a conference room on the eighth floor, Dubord said. Nine hostages were taken, but one was released right away because of a medical condition.

Insp. Neil Dubord of the Edmonton Police Service said negotiators were in almost constant contact with the hostage-taker inside the Workers' Compensation Board offices. ((CBC))
Of the eight remaining hostages, seven were employees of the board and one was a claimant. None were involved with the alleged gunman's case, Dubord said.

During the day-long negotiations with police, one hostage after another was released, with the first leaving the conference room at 10:30 a.m. The gunman surrendered at 6:18 p.m. local time.

"At the start of this, Mr. Clayton was very clear that he had no intention of leaving the WCB building alive," Dubord said. "But as the day progressed and through the work of the hostage negotiator, he was able to convince Mr. Clayton to be able to leave peacefully and bring a successful conclusion to this incident."

No one was hurt. 

On Wednesday afternoon, a man identifying himself as the hostage-taker called CBC News in Edmonton to complain about the treatment he had received from the WCB. He said he had been injured on the job and was unable to work, and the board had unfairly cut off his benefits.

Accused abusive and drug user, ex-wife alleges

According to court documents obtained by CBC News, Clayton's ex-common-law wife said she was afraid he would physically harm her.

A restraining order was granted in May 2009 that required Clayton to keep from coming within 200 metres of her and not to communicate with her.

In an affidavit sworn in support of that court order, the woman alleged she feared his unpredictable behaviour and drug abuse, which she said included the use of crack cocaine.

The couple separated in late 2005. In the affidavit, she alleged Clayton continued to harass her afterwards, including sending up to 30 phone messages and 20 text messages in one day, which she characterized as threatening and insulting.

Security questioned

The incident is raising questions about safety within all government buildings.

The WCB confirmed Thursday it is reviewing security at its building in downtown Edmonton, even though a spokesperson described the procedures as "solid."

"We are looking at our procedures. We are reviewing what worked and what didn't work so that we can address that and that's happening today," WCB spokesperson Jennifer Dagsvik said.

But Daniel Clayton, a security expert unrelated to the accused, said he sold his security company because he feels the standards for guards in Alberta are too low.

"As long as you don't have a criminal record and you're over the age of 18 years old, basically anybody can be a security officer," he said. "You don't even need any training whatsoever, and that's kind of scary when you put security officers in charge of … government buildings and banks and places like that when they're really the first responders."

He also said government buildings should be equipped with metal detectors like those at courthouses.

Premier Ed Stelmach said officials will review how a man with a gun was able to get into the building.

"That is a point of discussion between the solicitor general, police services and just to get more input on how events like this can be prevented in the future," he told reporters Thursday morning.

"I'm sure that the Edmonton Police Service, our own security detail, the sheriffs and also the solicitor general, the justice minister, will be looking at what had happened and then what we can learn from that to either change the security in public buildings or how we address a situation like that and ensure that it doesn't happen in the future."

Staff at the Workers' Compensation Board returned to work Thursday morning. People were hugging each other, grateful Wednesday's incident was over, Dagsvik said.

"What I just saw was ... a lot of love pouring out between staff. They're very close here," she said.

Counselling was made available to people who requested it.