Man charged after entering Ontario emergency department with what appeared to be a firearm

There were some frightening moments at the emergency department of Sarnia, Ont.'s Bluewater Health hospital overnight.

22-year-old entered Sarnia, Ont.'s Bluewater Health with a BB gun

Last night, a man entered the emergency department of Bluewater Health hospital in Sarnia, Ont. with what appeared to be a weapon, according to Sarnia police. He was arrested and charged following the incident. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

There were some frightening moments at the emergency department of Sarnia, Ont.'s Bluewater Health hospital overnight.

Just after midnight, police say a "highly agitated" man who appeared to be under the influence of drugs entered the hospital's emergency department.

After arguing with the triage staff, hospital security approached him and he ran out of the building.

Police say hospital security followed him to make sure he left the premises, but outside the man pointed a firearm and lunged at the staff. 

Staff ran back inside the hospital building, and the suspect followed them inside, raising his weapon in the emergency department. 

"People took cover, concerned for their lives," Sarnia police said in a media statement. 

When Sarnia police arrived, the man had already fled the scene and was tracked down by police, about six blocks away.

When officers approached him, the gun was on the ground, and the suspect was arrested.

Bluewater Health has seen a dramatic rise in admissions related to COVID-19 in recent weeks. (Sue Reid/CBC)

It turned out the weapon was a BB gun that police say was a replica of a handgun. 

Police say they also found 37 grams of crystal methamphetamine on the man. 

The 22-year-old man from Sarnia faces 24 charges, including assault with a weapon, pointing a firearm and uttering threats.

Police said no one was injured in the incident. 

Hospital overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients

An internal memo was issued to staff at the hospital following the 'code silver' — a term used when an individual enters a hospital facility with a weapon. 

The memo stated that "tensions are high overall" in the community and that "differing viewpoints on the pandemic," drug use and domestic violence are all on the rise and impacting the hospital. 

In recent weeks, the hospital's 14-bed ICU has been overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, prompting staff there to plead with the public to follow COVID-19 guidelines. 

Last week, CBC News was granted access to Bluewater Health's ICU and its specially designated COVID-19 ward.