Police have laid a series of charges against a man accused of firing shots and throwing a Molotov cocktail inside Edmonton’s city hall Tuesday.
Bezhani Sarvar, 28, is facing seven charges in connection with the shooting that sent the city hall building in downtown Edmonton into lockdown, according to court documents.
The charges laid Wednesday include arson, possession of incendiary material, careless use of a firearm and throwing explosives with the intent to cause harm.
The accused is expected to attend a bail hearing Thursday.
Edmonton police continue to investigate the suspect’s motive. Investigators believe he acted alone.
During a news conference Tuesday, Edmonton police Chief Dale McFee said the man was heavily armed when he entered city hall around 10:30 a.m.
McFee said the man entered through the parkade before firing shots from a long gun, shattering glass in the building, and then started a small fire outside an elevator.
The man was armed with several incendiary devices, including a Molotov cocktail that he threw from the second floor of the building’s atrium, McFee said.
McFee said the man appeared to be shooting “randomly.”
City hall in Edmonton’s downtown will remain closed to both staff and the public on Wednesday.
Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi says security protocols at city hall will be re-examined in the wake of the shooting.
Before the building re-opens, safety measures will be carefully reviewed, Sohi said. He said city administration will seek the advice of outside security experts during that assessment.
City hall is a public space and a place of work for many and it must be secure, Sohi said.
“We will do the assessment once things settle a bit,” Sohi said in an interview Wednesday.
“I’m pretty sure there will be need for some security measures because we want to make sure that it’s a safe place for everyone to work.”
As of Tuesday evening, Edmonton police remained at city hall. After police have left, staff from the city’s corporate security and facilities management teams will determine what repairs are needed and conduct a security assessment, Sohi said.
Police said the suspect was detained by an unarmed security guard until officers arrived at the scene.
Sohi described the incident as traumatic.
“Everyone is shaken,” Sohi said. “And I want everyone to know that we are feeling their trauma, we are feeling their concerns.
“And when city hall opens back, we will try to bring it back to as normal as it can be after this very disturbing and traumatic event.”
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Dan Jones, Chair of Justice Studies at Norquest College, spent three years as a correctional officer and 22 years as a police officer.
He said Tuesday’s events could have been catastrophic and should prompt the city to put it’s security protocols under increased scrutiny.
He said maintaining security in a public place such as city hall is a delicate balancing act.
“I don’t think we want to end up being a place where we have all these security check stops,” he said.
Edmonton AM5:31Edmonton’s mayor speaks about the shooting inside city hall
“But at the same time you don’t want to leave people in a way that they’re unsafe or unprotected.
“It’s that continuous battle between freedom of movement and security.”
In a statement, Nick Grimshaw, CEO of the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires, Northern Alberta Division, thanked the security officer.
“Our member went above and beyond his normal duties as a commissionaire,” Grimshaw said.
“We are very proud of him and thank him for taking such bold and brave action to protect the public at city hall.”