THUNDER BAY -- City police say they were erring on the side of caution in a case of mistaken identity that shut down a neighbourhood Thursday night.
Law enforcement in Ontario received a tip that Lyle Hoffman, a man on the run and wanted for murder in Minnesota, may be in Canada.
Thunder Bay Police Service officers spotted a car with Minnesota license plates on Riverside Drive around 6 p.m. Thursday and a man matching Hoffman's description. Several hours and a full incident command later, they learned the man was from Thunder Bay and had visitors in from out of town.
Police spokesman Chris Adams said it all worked out but at the time officers didn't know what they were dealing with. There could have been a hostage situation or any number of problems when potentially dealing with an armed and dangerous fugitive. It's not as simple as knocking on the door.
"There was a perceived threat then to the public," Adams said. "We'll always go on the side of caution."
"You don't know what you're dealing with so the officers will not automatically approach the house."
Someone heading to the home was detained and questioned by police, which quickly diffused the situation. Adams said police were able to figure out that the man wasn't Hoffman. He was surprised but good-natured and understood the confusion Adams said.
"Everyone was relieved it was over," he said.
Hoffman is wanted for the Aug. 11 murder of Kelly Phillips. While local police now believe he isn't in the area, if spotted they are urging the public to avoid contact and call police as soon as possible.