Nova Scotia

Woman facing weapons charges after incident at Halifax Central Library

A 30-year-old woman from Halifax is charged with possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace and carrying a concealed weapon.

Police say they seized a replica firearm after responding to report of someone with a gun

Emergency vehicles parked in front of the Halifax Central Library on Sunday. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

A 30-year-old woman from Halifax is facing weapons charges after police seized a replica firearm at the Halifax Central Library on Sunday.

Police say they responded to a report of a person with a firearm at about 4:51 p.m. and subsequently arrested two people. 

A woman is charged with possession of a weapon dangerous to the public peace and carrying a concealed weapon. She spent the night in custody awaiting an appearance in Halifax provincial court Monday.

A 25-year-old man was arrested for public intoxication and released Sunday after he sobered up, said Halifax Regional Police Const. John MacLeod.

MacLeod said it can be challenging to determine if a firearm is real until it's examined closely, and police have to work under the assumption there is a real threat.

He said replica firearms, such as pellet pistols and airsoft guns, don't fire projectiles at the same velocity as firearms but they're designed to look like real guns.

"On preliminary examination, it was a replica. It goes off to the lab and will go for testing as any firearm that we seize or replica," he said.

MacLeod said in scenarios where police are responding, people in the area should follow any directions from them and show their empty hands to clearly communicate they're not carrying a weapon. 

No one from Halifax Public Libraries was available for an interview Monday afternoon.  A spokesperson said staff followed an evacuation policy and worked with police to ensure everyone made it out of the building safely.

Michelle Rodriguez, a Saint Mary's University engineering student, was studying for exams with her boyfriend in a conference room on the third floor of the library when she heard someone on the public address system.

"She sounded like she was sobbing. She screamed, like it was so loud it hurt your ears when she said it. She said, 'Everyone please evacuate the library,'" Rodriguez said.

Alarms sounded in the library and lights were flashing. 

Rodriguez's first thought was that there was an active shooter. Not wanting to exit through the open staircase in the middle of the building, she headed for one of the fire exits and discovered a crammed stairwell.

"I was really nervous to the point where my hands were getting numb. I was just really scared there was something going on," she said.

"It was chaos. When I was going down the stairs, that was the most horrible part of the evacuation. Everyone was so desperate." 

Rodriguez returned to the library Monday morning.

"I noticed how empty it was. Usually around these days, it's really hard to find a spot to study," she said.