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Edmonton city hall shooter’s actions were ‘politically motivated,’ RCMP say in laying terrorism charges

Mounties say they believe an attack on Edmonton City Hall in January was politically motivated, meaning it reaches the legal threshold for terrorism charges.

Supt. Glenn Sells of the RCMP’s national security team said officers seized an SKS assault-style rifle, three prohibited rifle magazines, about 150 rounds of ammunition and four gasoline-filled Molotov cocktails from the scene.

Sells says this highlights the risk to the public and the amount of damage that could have been done that day.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton city hall shooter’s actions were ‘politically motivated,’ RCMP say in laying terrorism charges'

Edmonton city hall shooter’s actions were ‘politically motivated,’ RCMP say in laying terrorism charges

Police have said a heavily armed man entered city hall on Jan. 23 through an underground parkade, fired a gun and lit several small incendiary devices, which caused a small fire outside an elevator.

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No one was hurt, but the bullets shattered glass and punctured ceilings and walls.

Sells says as details of the attack began to emerge, it appeared to fall within the national security mandate of the RCMP.

On Monday, RCMP announced Bezhani Sarvar, 28, had been charged with counselling commission of a terrorism offence and possession of property for terrorist purposes.

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The Integrated National Security Enforcement Team said those charges are in conjunction with nine others that constitute terrorism offences, including intentionally possessing incendiary material while committing an indictable offence.

Click to play video: 'Tour of Edmonton City Hall after damage from shooting'

Tour of Edmonton City Hall after damage from shooting

Sarvar is also charged with two counts of possessing a prohibited device, mischief, carrying a concealed weapon and possessing a weapon for the purpose of committing an offence.

Police have said the suspect surrendered to a city hall security commissionaire, who detained him until police arrived.

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The building was full of people during the shooting, including a class of Grade 1 students. City police and RCMP tactical teams spent several hours securing and clearing the building, escorting out citizens who had been sheltering in various locations.

Police have said they were reviewing a video posted by a man wearing a commissionaire’s jacket. In the video, the man delivers a rambling manifesto, decrying everything from so-called “wokeism” to the fighting in Gaza to unhealthy diets.

Sells said that once Mounties were brought onto the case, they did a thorough analysis of the evidence collected, executed more search warrants, interviewed witnesses and analyzed electronic evidence.

Sarvar had worked as a security guard Prior to his arrest.

The day after the shooting, the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires confirmed he had been an employee since 2019 and was “assigned to a variety of locations within the Edmonton area but was never assigned to the security detail at city hall.”

Security video of a man inside city hall who fired shots showed he was wearing a Commissionaires security jacket, a vest and a security shirt.

In a video posted to social media, which appeared to have been posted the morning of the shooting and which has since been deleted from YouTube, Sarvar was seen sitting in a vehicle and talking about completing a mission. In the video, he listed a wide range of concerns about the cost of living, the housing crisis, immigration and other issues.

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In the video, the accused also speaks about “genocide in Gaza” and speaks out against “anyone that is destabilizing other countries.”

Global News has confirmed Sarvar lived in Edmonton with his wife and their children.

Click to play video: 'Edmonton City Hall shooter: Blair reacts to suspect’s terrorism charges'

Edmonton City Hall shooter: Blair reacts to suspect’s terrorism charges

Edmonton City Hall remains closed to the public as city officials make decisions on how to implement security changes at the building, though staff have been allowed to return to work and the media is allowed inside.

–with files from Karen Bartko and Phil Heidenreich, Global News

&© 2024 The Canadian Press

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