Quietly watching television in the living room of the office building, the last thing the manager of the Lakeside Villa Inn and Suites expected Wednesday night was to be led away in handcuffs.
It took several calls from someone identifying themselves as police before the woman, who asked that her name not be used, finally believed that something was horibbly wrong. Previously believing she was the victim of a prank, she finally left the building as requested — she didn’t realize it would be the start of a six-hour, overnight standoff between police and a man with a violent past, claiming to have a weapon and a hostage.
“It was just like a movie,” recalled the tired manager Thursday morning, who was wearing only light pyjamas and no shoes at the time. “So when I went outside they said: ‘put your hands up, blah, blah, blah’ and they went ‘come this way, walk this way’ and I went ‘what?, what’s going on?’ Then they put handcuffs on me and took me to that underpass that goes to the beach.
“They told me they got a call from this place (motel) from a man who said he had two guns and a hostage and then I saw all the police cars and the SWAT team and armoured car.”
She added the original 911 call by the man did not show the room number and that all the police knew is that it came from the motel.
At that point she told officers she had noticed some strange behaviour earlier on the television monitor connected to the camera on the outside of the building by the guest in room 17.
“I said the only one I could think of was the guy in 17 because he was acting weird, he was coming out of his room and knocking on people’s doors going back in and I was right, it was that guy,” said the manager who had only taken the job three days earlier.
She then told the officer where the master key was located in the office and police went to the other occupied rooms and evacuated a total of 15 people.
According to Cpl. Don Wrigglesworth of the Penticton RCMP the initial 911 call from the 25-year-old man, believed to be from Kelowna, came in at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, saying he had shot himself.
Read more: Penticton RCMP take violent man into custody
“He claimed to have a sawed off shotgun and would shoot anybody who came into the room,” said Wrigglesworth. “So all police officers as well as the emergency response team members attended and all the units in the motel were evacuated and the people were bussed to the (Penticton Regional) airport.”
After the successful negotiations, the man was taken into custody under the mental health act and transported to Penticton Regional Hospital. RCMP said at this point it is not anticipated that any criminal charges will be pursued.
No weapon was found and the man did suffer some injuries police believe may have been self inflicted, but not from a firearm.
The man has an extensive criminal record and is well known to police. He is also prohibited from having firearms.
The manager of Lakeside Villa Inn and Suites said she was shocked what she found after being allowed to return to the area.
“When they let us back in I went to check the room (17) there was blood on the door by the handle and I’m like ‘oh my god’ so then I opened the door and there’s blood on the carpet, in the bedroom and the bathroom, everywhere. I don’t know if he tried to kill himself,” she said.
The manger added she hadn’t experienced anything like this before and hopes she never does again.
Traffic was stopped in both directions for the entire time due to concerns for public safety, especially with the proximity of the motel to the highway.
“In this case, there was no other alternative,” said Wrigglesworth.
Penticton RCMP, Southeast District Emergency Response team members, Crisis Negotiators, Police Dog Services as well as members of Southeast District Traffic Services responded to the call.