UPDATE: Arrest made in connection with Victoria City Hall bomb threat

Maple Ridge man, 53, arrested at a gas station moments after call was placed

VicPD Sgt. Mike Chicorelli and police dog Max check for explosives outside Victoria City Hall on Sept. 22 at about 2 p.m. A bomb threat called in to City Hall at about 1 p.m.

VicPD Sgt. Mike Chicorelli and police dog Max check for explosives outside Victoria City Hall on Sept. 22 at about 2 p.m. A bomb threat called in to City Hall at about 1 p.m.

Police officers guarded each entrance to Victoria City Hall Thursday afternoon. Staff milled about in the courtyard off Pandora Avenue as they waited to return to work.

Outside the building, Sgt. Mike Chicorelli and police dog Max walked through plantings and inspected garbage pins in search of explosives.

In the end, no bomb was found.

At about 12:40 p.m., someone called City Hall and said there was a bomb inside. Staff immediately evacuated the building, according to their emergency plan. About 250 staff left the building for about two hours while police searched inside.

Meanwhile, staff at the VicPD communications centre scrambled to trace the origin of that call. They tracked it to a gas station in Maple Ridge, and just more than half an hour after the threat was made, Maple Ridge RCMP sped up to a gas station in the 2100-block of Lougheed Hwy. and arrested a man.

The 53-year-old suspect is a resident of Maple Ridge. Police are considering charges of public mischief against him.

This was the second bomb threat at City Hall this year – the first happened Jan. 7 and was also a hoax. No one was arrested in that incident.

Mayor Dean Fortin said he felt safe with “the best (police) dog in the world” searching the building – Max and Chicorelli won a gold medal at the World Police and Fire Games earlier this month for vehicle searched and a bronze medal for building searches.

“We’ve searched most of the inside and the exterior and he hasn’t indicated any odours,” Chicorelli said.

“Max is trained to alert the presence of explosive odour so we search locations inside and out. It’s a change of behaviour mostly – his breathing changes and his body language changes and then he sits.”

Chicorelli helps train seven-year-old chocolate lab Max throughout the year, using a kit of different types of explosives in varying amounts, are hidden in a range of scenarios for Max to detect.

ecardone@vicnews.com