A man who a witness said appeared to be in some form of mental health crisis was taken to hospital after the St. Andrew’s Cathedral parish centre on View Street was forcefully broken into Wednesday afternoon.
Police responded to a 911 call in large numbers to the downtown site across from the View Street parkade. Ultimately officers used rubber bullets and pepper spray to subdue the man on the second floor of the building, according to office assistant Joseph Potter.
“I’m pretty shaken, I’m calling it a day early for today,” he said, having been at the centre of the incident.
Potter said around 2:25 p.m. he noticed the man outside the front door of the centre, on the southwest corner of the church complex at View and Blanshard streets. The man was yelling and appeared agitated, Potter said, and lunged at the door, which Potter shut quickly.
The man yanked on the door three or four times before breaking through it and making his way into the foyer of the parish centre, which doubles as the rectory, the residence of the priest at the church.
Potter said two parishioners who were with him at the time in the parish centre library off the foyer were able to escape unharmed, after which he called 911.
Potter said the man was known to the church custodian, who arrived before police and had worked to calm the man down and get him seated. However, the man fled police by running up the stairs. Potter said he later heard popping sounds, which an officer told him was rubber bullets, and upstairs windows were opened to alleviate the effects of the pepper spray.
VicPD says the man was armed with an “improvised weapon” when police arrived.
The man was arrested before being transported to hospital, where police said he would receive a mental health evaluation, decontamination treatment from the pepper spray and other medical tests.
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