Manitoba

Police ask public for information on man who was disarmed, restrained by bystanders Saturday

Winnipeg police are looking for people who saw or interacted with an armed 30-year-old man on Saturday who is now in hospital in critical condition.

30-year-old man is in critical condition after being taken to hospital around 11 a.m.

Police were called to reports of a man acting in a threatening manner on Saturday. (Kelly Malone/CBC)

Winnipeg police are looking for people who saw or interacted with an armed 30-year-old man on Saturday who is now in hospital in critical condition.

"We're not looking for suspects. …The individual was armed, but right now we're more worried about his medical condition than any of that aspect," said Const. Rob Carver.

"We're just looking to be able paint the most accurate picture we can, and to do that we're looking for anyone who can give us additional information."

Shortly after 11 a.m. Saturday, police say the man was causing a disturbance in the area of Main Street and Jarvis Avenue. He was behaving erratically and armed with an edged weapon — Carver said he couldn't say what kind — and had recently been removed from a neighbouring business.

Two or three bystanders in the area were able to take his weapon away and restrained him, and police got there quickly afterward, Carver said.

At that point, the man had a medical emergency and was taken to hospital, where he remains in critical condition. Carver said he couldn't share the nature of the medical issue for privacy reasons.

He also said it's too early to say if the man was under the influence of any substances.

"It's not a conclusion we can easily make … until we get medical information on that. People can have erratic behaviour for any number of reasons and I don't want to speculate in this case," he said.

Over the course of the morning, the man is believed to have interacted with several people in the area, including some in vehicles.

Police are asking anyone who saw the man or interacted with him to call investigators at 204-986-6219 or CrimeStoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).

Police were called to Main Street, near Jarvis Avenue on Saturday morning for reports of a man acting in a threatening manner. (Kelly Malone/CBC)

The bystanders who restrained him weren't injured, but Carver said police don't recommend getting involved with somebody armed.

"It's never recommended to approach anyone where you feel that there's a danger, and certainly someone that's armed — we had an officer stabbed just outside [police headquarters] a couple of evenings ago. It's never recommended," he said.

"Having said that, people will always act in ways that they feel is appropriate, and I wouldn't make any negative comments about the people who've done that. They may have prevented other people in the area from possibly being injured. They may have actually prevented this individual from injury."

Seized camera returned

While police were investigating an officer seized a camera from a Winnipeg Sun photographer that Carver said has since been returned, with an apology.

"We want to apologize. That officer, or those officers, didn't follow the procedures and policies that we have in place," Carver said.

Seizing a journalist's camera requires judicial intervention and a warrant, Carver said, and the service is making sure its officers are aware of that.

It's possible the officer believed the photographer had captured evidence of the incident, he added.

An employee of the Sun reached by CBC News said the paper had no further comment.

Officers' No. 1 priority on scenes is to make sure everyone is safe, including onlookers as well as the officers and victims involved, Carver said.

"When there is a scene going on, you certainly do have the ability to record it. You do have the ability to bring out a phone. We know in this day and age that's what people do," he said, adding a caveat. 

"They need to do it from a safe distance and they need to follow the direction of officers who are there, who are really doing their best in often chaotic situations to maintain everybody's safety."