Metrotown area cleared, swatting being investigated, after unfounded reports of shots fired

THE Metrotown area has been cleared of any active threat after an unconfirmed report of shots being fired forced the closure and evacuation of Metropolis at Metrotown on Friday afternoon.

Burnaby RCMP said they were initially called to the area to assist Transit Police with an investigation that forced the closure of the Metrotown SkyTrain Station just before 3 p.m.

Around the same time, a report was received about a possible person with a gun, with shots possibly being fired, in the mall.

Burnaby RCMP officers assisted with securing and evacuating the mall to ensure the safety of the public. The public was urged to avoid the area.

A careful grid search was then conducted inside the mall, with the assistance of the Emergency Response Team.

No threat was found, and there were no injuries. The incident at Metrotown Station was also determined to be unfounded.

The mall was given the all-clear around 6:30 p.m. It’s expected the mall will remain closed to the public on Friday evening.

“We understand this was a dynamic and distressing situation for the public and those in the area, with customers and staff taking shelter in stores in the mall, and others evacuating from the building,” said Cpl. Mike Kalanj. “We are thankful this isn’t a situation that is often faced in Canada, and are grateful this call was unfounded and nobody was hurt.”

Burnaby RCMP are investigating the source of the call, and whether the incident was related to swatting, where fake emergency calls are made to provoke a large response from police and other agencies. Swatting is a criminal offence in Canada.

“As we saw today, these unfounded reports prompt a large response from first responders, who must take these incidents seriously to protect the public,” said Kalanj.

Port Moody Police are also investigating an unfounded incident that happened in that city on Friday. One suspect has been arrested in connection to that incident.

Investigators are working together to determine if there are links between the cases, and whether the same suspect may be responsible.

“We will be working closely with our policing partners, including Port Moody Police and Transit Police, on the investigation,” said Kalanj.