Mayor Moore wasn’t at city hall when the man entered, yet, she confirmed that the man was known to staff, but could not elaborate due to the pending investigation.

Mayor Moore wasn’t at city hall when the man entered, yet, she confirmed that the man was known to staff, but could not elaborate due to the pending investigation.

Rossland mayor shares concerns over city hall intruder

RCMP report the armed man arrived at city hall around 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26.

Police have identified Matthew Ponka as the man who was arrested in Rossland City Hall last week armed with a bow and arrow.

Ponka, 24, is facing several charges according to an update provided by Trail RCMP detachment commander, Sgt. Mike Wicentowich.

Those charges include: mischief; forcible entry; possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose; and weapons carrying/possessing offences.

According to RCMP, the man arrived at city hall around 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26. Investigators say the man entered through a back door, pushing his way past staff once inside.

“The suspect refused to leave and proceeded to lock himself in an office inside the civic building,” RCMP said.

Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore expressed concern for her staff and relief after the bold city hall intruder was arrested.

“We did have a couple employees in the building, who work very early, and they were there, so it was pretty frightening for them,” Moore said. “No one was hurt, and there was no property damage or anything like that.

Mayor Moore wasn’t at city hall when the man entered, yet, she confirmed that the man was known to staff, but could not elaborate due to the pending investigation.

“The RCMP responded very quickly and they took it very seriously, because this individual was armed. But they were able to talk him out.”

Officers used crisis de-escalation tactics and the man was taken into custody without further incident. Police did not release information on the man’s condition or state of mind.

“I can’t go into a lot of detail, but I would say mental health plays a big part,” said Moore. “There’s a lot of stress in the world right now, and a lot of weird things going on politically to the south of us, and this could have been one of those kind of things.”

The incident was completely unexpected, and shortly after, the City of Rossland announced that the building would be closed for the rest of the week.

“We have a great team, who support each other,” said Moore. “People are there and still doing their work, they’re serving people on the phone, through email and by appointment, we’re just not having the facility open for drop-ins. The doors are locked at least temporarily for now, and that’s so we can review our security protocols.”

The incident is a sobering example of how the current pandemic has affected residents’ mental health. According to a December study by the Canadian Mental Health Association and UBC, 40 per cent of those surveyed say their mental health has deteriorated since COVID, and 61 per cent among those with pre-existing medical conditions.

“You just don’t think of this kind of thing in a small town,” added Moore. “And honestly if there hadn’t been some of the other stuff going on in the world, I don’t think we would have experienced it at all.”

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