Halifax police release bomb threat call that shut down Relay For Life
Halifax Regional Police have released Friday night’s 911 call of a bomb threat that shut down the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life on the Halifax Common.
Police hope someone will recognize the man’s voice and come forward.
“We felt that releasing the 911 tape might bring some kind of closure to the actual event,” says Const. Pierre Bourdages, spokesman for the Halifax Regional Police. “Someone might be able to recognize the voice and tell us who the man is.”
The suspect is heard telling the 911 operator that something similar to the bombings at the Boston Marathon will happen in Halifax.
911 operator: 911, what is your emergency?
Suspect:“Remember the Boston bombing, well that’s gonna (expletive) happen up here in Halifax (inaudible) my (expletive) (expletive).”
Police say the call came in at approximately 7:45 p.m. on Friday. They determined the call originated from a payphone at the corner of Spring Garden Road and South Park Street.
Officers were on the scene within minutes, but did not locate anyone near the payphone.
The officers searched the area, including the Public Gardens, Victoria Park and the Wanderers’ Ground, but failed to locate the suspect.
Police said they searched the area for suspicious packages but did not find anything.
The Relay for Life, an annual fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society, was taking place nearby at the Halifax Common.
Police consulted with organizers about the possible threat and organizers decided it was best to cancel the event to ensure the safety and well-being of the participants and volunteers.
"First and foremost we care about people and our work is about people," Barbara Stead-Coyle, CEO of the Cancer Society told CTV Atlantic.
"We're not prepared to take that kind of risk."
News of the fundraiser’s cancellation angered many participants, some of whom shared their shocked and angry reactions with CTV News.
"I think it’s disgraceful, really. We're here for people who died of cancer and survivors," one participant said. "We're trying to do good work and this is what happens, it’s unbelievable. There should be justice for this."
Organizers of the Walk to Fight Arthritis also cancelled their event on Sunday and held a barbecue instead.
With more fundraising events scheduled this weekend, organizers are making sure they are prepared for the unexpected.
“We’ve been in touch with the police and we would never do anything to compromise the safety of our volunteers, our staff and our participants,” says Peter Mallette, executive director of Prostate Cancer Canada for the Atlantic region. “Until we hear otherwise, it’s going to be business as usual.”
“Certainly we have taken some steps to make sure that if this happens, we have a process in place for expedient evacuation and for the safety of all of our participants,” says Kimberly Carter, CEO and president of the Nova Scotia ALS Society.
Officials at the Canadian Cancer Society don’t regret their decision to cancel the Relay for Life, saying safety was their top priority, even if it meant losing donations.
“We’re certainly tracking below where we expected to be on Monday morning after one of our bigger events,” says Marie-France LeBlanc of the Canadian Cancer Society.
LeBlanc says the organization is hoping to make up for the loss in future events and is inviting anyone who was registered to participate in the Halifax relay to join the society at one of their other 10 events happening across the province this month.
Police say all upcoming events will be on their radar, as they continue to search for the man who made the call.
“Sometimes these events have extra police officers,” says Bourdages. “If not, it’s regular officers patrolling the area, but we’ll definitely keep an eye on it.”
With files from CTV Atlantic's Suzette Belliveau