THUNDER BAY - Police are appealing for any witnesses of a motorist driving over a tent in County Fair Plaza to come forward in the hopes of shedding some light on what may have led up to the incident.
“The police service takes incidents like this seriously,” said Insp. Derek West with the Thunder Bay Police Service. “We appreciate the officers working that day who were able to respond quickly and we know others in the area who may have witnessed it and recorded it. We are looking for those individuals to come forward to share that information with us and provide any video they might have.”
Officers in the area received a call Tuesday afternoon of a truck that had driven over a tent at the former Sunny’s Gas Bar in County Fair Plaza. Witnesses identified the vehicle, which was located by officers in the East Avenue area where the driver, a 37-year-old Fowler Township man, was arrested and charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.
At the time of the report it was believed someone was sleeping inside of the tent but officers determined it was empty and there were no reported injuries.
The former gas bar in the parking lot of the County Fair Plaza is being used as shelter by vulnerably housed individuals. The city of Thunder Bay had initially planned to install a fence around the area, but paused the plan after a local organization secured funding to offer more supports to people in the area. The group Not One More Death held a demonstration against the city's initial plan's to fence off the area.
West said he is not aware of any other altercations between the people seeking shelter at the former gas bar and people who frequent businesses in the area.
“I haven’t heard of any specific interaction between those people,” he said. “I’ve heard there have been a lot of positive interactions with members of the community trying to support these individuals.”
“With any incident, people taking the law into their own hands for malicious intent will not be tolerated,” West added.
“We all have a right to be safe in our community and providing appropriate supports will be important to assisting people, versus being angry than forcing a physical encounter. We want the community to report things they see so we might be able to bring in the right resources.”
According to West, drugs and alcohol were not a factor in the incident and the incident is still under investigation.
Anyone with information or video of the incident that could assist in this investigation is encouraged to contact the Thunder Bay Police Service at 684-1200 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.p3tips.com.