Calgary Herald: Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RCMP) revealed Thursday that officers have seized a “substantial amount” of firearms from homes in the evacuated town of High River. “We just want to make sure that all of those things are in a spot that we control, simply because of what they are,” said Sgt. Brian Topham.
“People have a significant amount of money invested in firearms … so we put them in a place that we control and that they’re safe.”
That news didn’t sit well with a crowd of frustrated residents who had planned to breach a police checkpoint northwest of the town as an evacuation order stretched into its eighth day.
“I find that absolutely incredible that they have the right to go into a person’s belongings out of their home,” said resident Brenda Lackey, after learning Mounties have been taking residents’ guns. “When people find out about this there’s going to be untold hell to pay.”
About 30 RCMP officers set up a blockade at the checkpoint, preventing 50 residents from walking into the town. Dozens more police cars, lights on, could be seen lining streets in the town on standby.
Officers laid down a spike belt to stop anyone from attempting to drive past the blockade. That action sent the crowd of residents into a rage. “What’s next? Tear gas?” shouted one resident. “It’s just like Nazi Germany, just taking orders,” shouted another.
“This is the reason the U.S. has the right to bear arms,” said Charles Timpano, pointing to the group of Mounties.
Officers were ordered to fall back about an hour into the standoff in order to diffuse the situation and listen to residents’ concerns.
“We don’t want our town to turn into another New Orleans,” said resident Jeff Langford. “The longer that the water stays in our houses the worse it’s going to be. We’ll either be bulldozing them or burning them down because we’ve got an incompetent government.”
Langford blasted High River Mayor Emile Blokland over comments made Wednesday in which Blokland said residents will be allowed to return after businesses, such as hardware and drug stores, are opened. “It was ridiculous,” said Langford. “I think he’s a puppet on a string.”
Langford said Premier Redford should come to High River to address residents’ concerns and provide information. “This is at the highest tension,” he said. “What’s going to happen next is that people are just going to be walking across these fields, and I don’t care if they put hundreds of thousand of police officers there, they’re not going to stop from getting in.”
Sgt. Topham said he didn’t know when residents would be allowed to return to their homes. “People much higher up are going to make those decisions,” he said.
He did confirm that officer relied on forced entry to get into numerous houses during the early stages of the flood because of an “urgent need”, said Topham. Police are no longer forcing themselves into homes and the residences that were forced open will be secured, he said.
Topham said the confiscated firearms have been inventoried and are secured at an RCMP detachment. He was not at liberty to say how many firearms had been confiscated. “We have seized a large quantity of firearms simply because they were left by residents in their places,” said Topham.
The guns will be returned to owners after residents are allowed back in town and they provide proof of ownership, Topham added. Residents promised to returned to the checkpoint at noon every day until they are allowed to return to their homes.