Nova Scotia

Christopher Phillips, ID'd as ex-bio weapons specialist, from Halifax

A man suspected of travelling from Nova Scotia with potentially hazardous chemicals and arrested at an Ottawa hotel was identified by the RCMP as a former military biochemical weapons specialist from the United States.

RCMP say they're unsure how many chemicals are inside and what they are

Raw Grand Desert

8 years ago
Duration 1:26
Search of home in Grand Desert

Nova Scotia RCMP say they've uncovered a cache of chemicals at a cottage on Dyke Road in Grand Desert believed to be linked to Christopher Phillips, the Halifax man arrested in Ottawa Wednesday.

Five homes near the property remained under an evacuation order Wednesday evening.

RCMP in Nova Scotia issued an evacuation order Tuesday evening for 20 homes near a separate property in Cole Harbour, also believed to be linked to Phillips, after reports that suspicious package had been found. Police later discovered chemicals inside a garage at the property.

The Grand Desert evacuation order is expected to continue until at least Thursday.

Mounties say the Dyke Road property contained "hazardous and volatile chemicals."

CBC News has learned there is a familial relationship between the owners of the Cole Harbour home and the Dyke Road property. The exact nature of the relationship and the precise links to Phillips are not yet clear.

Nova Scotia RCMP have called in their explosives disposal unit, Halifax Regional Police Forensics Identification Section, HAZMAT and Emergency Health Services to further investigate.

RCMP in Nova Scotia also confirmed earlier Wednesday morning that the evacuation of the Chimo Hotel in the east end of Ottawa is linked to the evacuations outside Halifax.

Ottawa police arrested Phillips Wednesday afternoon after a several-hour-long stand-off at the hotel, but found no hazardous materials at the hotel or in the man's van.

The RCMP had issued an internal memo Tuesday identifying Phillips as an ex-military weapons specialist with possible mental-health issues whom they considered to be "anti-police," sources confirmed to CBC News.

The memo alleged Phillips was in possession of the heavy metal osmium, as well as osmium tetroxide — a poisonous and volatile substance that can easily penetrate skin and should not be used without a fume hood. 

Those two chemicals have not been found in Phillips's possession; nor have police confirmed that they were among the chemicals found at the two Halifax are properties.

CBC News has also learned that Phillip's wife called police and told them her husband was driving to Ottawa. The van he drove was being investigated by the tactical explosives unit.

Ottawa police say the matter is being handled by the RCMP in Nova Scotia, some of whom are travelling to Ottawa to interview the suspect, said Nova Scotia RCMP Cpl. Greg Church.​

Grand Desert evacuation still in place

Meanwhile, people in Grand Desert are still out of their homes. RCMP said they will provide an update Thursday afternoon.

A resident of the area, Dave Croft, told CBC News he saw Phillips at the property and introduced himself to him when he moved in.

"He wasn't very friendly or neighbourly ... he was bit of an oddball," Croft said. "He mentioned about being from the States."

Croft says Phillips told him he bought the home for storage.

"He just didn't want anyone around," he said.

In a release late Tuesday afternoon, RCMP said a third home on Parkedge Crescent in Cole Harbour was searched and cleared.

According to Phillips's LinkedIn profile, he holds a bachelor of science in chemistry and biology and also studied medicine at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, and studied ophthalmology at University of Texas Medical School. 

The website also lists Phillips as the manager of Neurology and Sleep Medicine Associates Inc. in Halifax. 


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