Cosplay goes bad for gamer in Grande Prairie

Grande Prairie RCMP responded with guns drawn after reports of a man who may have a bomb. As it turned out, the man was just looking to get some alterations to his costume.

Grande Prairie RCMP draw firearms in response to man dressed as video game character

When the incident ended, RCMP had the man's elaborate costume. (William Vavrek Photography)

It was almost game over in Grande Prairie this week for a cosplay enthusiast.

Dressed as a character from Fallout, a popular post-apocalyptic video game series, the man walked down a street wearing a gas mask, helmet, armour and bullet belt.

He carried a flag that said "New California Republic" — one of the factions from the games.
A man dressed as a character from the Fallout video-game series walks down a street in Grande Prairie. (Kyle Martel/Facebook)

RCMP Cpl. Shawn Graham told CBC News that police received calls just before 5 p.m. Tuesday from citizens concerned the man was wearing what looked like a bomb on his back.

At least eight officers responded with their long guns drawn. Photos show them crouched behind vehicles and bushes.

"He was observed going into a business, so the RCMP members were able to safely remove the staff members from the business," Graham said.

The business was Lynn's Alterations at Bell Tower Plaza. The owner, Hoa Huynh, said the man wanted some alterations to the costume.

Huynh said he was preparing to take measurements when the RCMP called and asked if he could see any wires on the man. He says police then told him to leave out the back door. He did.
An RCMP officer stands behind a cruiser with a rifle at the ready during Tuesday's incident in Grande Prairie. (William Vavrek Photography)

Graham said RCMP soon made contact with the costumed man.

"Through conversation with the male they were able to determine that he was wearing a costume and there was no threat to the public," he said.

What had looked like a bomb turned out to be several Pringles potato chips cans that were painted silver.

The man was taken into custody but later released without any charges.

Photos appear to show officers smiling and laughing after the incident was resolved.

"We have to believe everything is real until proven otherwise," said Graham. "In the end you've got a good feeling after going, 'OK, there wasn't a bomb, there was no intent to do anything criminal, it's just someone with their costume.'"
Grande Prairie RCMP officers enjoy a lighter moment after an incident involving a man dressed as a video-game character. (William Vavrek Photography)

Graham thinks it should serve as a warning to others who enjoy cosplay that police will assume fake weapons are real.

"There's a time and a place for it," he said, pointing out that costumes are OK at conventions and similar events.

"Wandering around downtown [is] maybe not the place to do it."