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Some employees return to Edmonton city hall after shooting

Some councillors and other city staff returned to work at Edmonton City Hall on Monday, just under two weeks after a shooting.

The return to work was voluntary, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said, and remote work was still an option.

Committee meetings are being done virtually since city hall is not yet open to the public.

“I am feeling fine going back,” the mayor said Monday morning. “Obviously, what happened was — even though a rare event — a very traumatic event.

“It could have been worse. We got lucky that no one was physically hurt,” he added.

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On Jan. 23, just before 10:20 a.m., a man came into city hall through the parkade and walked through city hall with a firearm, firing shots, shattering glass, mostly on the second floor, and throwing a Molotov cocktail. No one was hurt or killed. Police arrested the man quickly and said they believed he acted alone.

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Bezhani Sarvar, 28, is charged with reckless arson in an occupied property, possessing incendiary materials, use of a firearm while committing an offence, careless use of a firearm, throwing an explosive substance and discharging a firearm into a building.

“There has been a lot of trauma caused by this,” Sohi said. “So we’re properly supporting staff with whatever they need.”

A security assessment of the public building is being done. Sohi said there is no timeline on when it might be done.

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“We are living in a very polarized world,” the mayor said Monday. “We would have to take some precautionary steps, absolutely, to ensure everyone who works at city hall — including political staff, administrative staff, city clerk’s office, communications folks — as well as people who go to city hall to engage with us do feel safe.

“At the same time, … city hall has always been a public place; it’s always been a community gathering place. And we need to keep it that way, … keep it as open and accessible as possible,” Sohi said.

He said the city will rely on advice from security experts and make whatever changes they deem necessary.

Sohi and city manager Andre Corbould previously said city hall would remain closed to the public until repairs were done and the security review completed.

Click to play video: 'Staffers act heroically during Edmonton City Hall shooting'

Staffers act heroically during Edmonton City Hall shooting

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