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Transit police seize “gun” from dumpster diver at West Broadway bus stop

July 14, 2016
Have gun, will get in trouble. Police officer holding confiscated firearm.

A transit police officer holding the firearm that he has just confiscated.

At exactly 14 minutes after 1 p.m. today (July 14), one of Translink’s transit police officers was standing on the south sidewalk of the 1400 block of West Broadway Avenue holding in his right hand what appeared to be a long flintlock pistol.

Literally seconds before, the officer had jumped out of the passenger side of  a marked Transit Police SUV and deliberately walked up and pulled the unlikely weapon out of the belt of a dumpster diver who had been calmly reclining on the bench by the 9 Boundary bus stop. To the right of this fellow were his three wheeled nylon luggage totes, bulging with treasure and trash that he’d plucked from the alleys of the Fairview neighbourhood.

It was a telling moment. The burly, bald-headed cop was swift and purposeful. He spoke to the fellow calmly and maintaining eye contact with him; even as he quickly stepped in close, reached down and took away the possibly dangerous weapon.

Certainly, from a distance, it would’ve looked dangerous—like a sawed-off shotgun—to whichever concerned citizen (or most likely, concerned citizen bus driver) had called it in.

Have gun, will get into trouble

police incident-1400-block-07-14-02

In less than 30 seconds police have the pistol and have its owner in handcuffs.

What the dumpster diver was carrying was no shotgun or semi-automatic handgun. As I say, it appeared to be an antiquated flintlock pistol—the kind that takes black powder and lead shot in one end and is fired by setting off the gunpowder with a spark at the other end.

You might remember such quaint 19th century weapons from Pirates of the Caribbean, or Treasure Island, which may explain why the fellow was carrying the thing in his belt, Long John Silver-style.  Arrrh! Some people are real idiots Jim!

I have to say though, the flintlock went well with the guy’s blue fake fur  vest.

A USD$200 flintlock pistol kit that fire real lead shot.—muzzle-loaders.com

A USD$200 flintlock pistol kit that fires real lead shot.—muzzle-loaders.com

How he laid his hands on a flintlock pistol is a question I didn’t have a chance to ask him—he was too busy being handcuffed, searched and carted off in a paddy wagon.

My educated guess is that he found it in one of the hundreds of dumpsters of the Fairview neighbourhood, through which flow the physical cast offs of every one of the activities, passions, manias, hobbies and pursuits of its over 31,000 well-to-do residents.

Sooner or later it seems that everything ends up in the garbage in Fairview.

Everything out of his pockets, cigarettes, lighter, binners flashlight...

Pulling everything out of his pockets—cigarettes, lighter, binner’s flashlight…

It also remains to be seen whether this fellow was actually carrying around a dangerous weapon. The officer who took it away agreed with me that it appeared to be a flintlock pistol but he was quick to tell me that this didn’t mean that it was harmless.

He was right. It could be a non functional toy replica or it could be a real, working replica—the kind that can be easily bought online and costs somewhere in the USD$200 range.

At one point, before he was driven away, I caught a snippet of the fellow’s dialogue with police. “No weapon, no contraband”, he declared with a bit of a smirk.

However, even if the flintlock turns out to be nothing more than a harmless toy, carrying it openly on a Canadian street, so that it can cause public distress, is no laughing matter. As another of the officers explained to me, the fellow faces at least some kind of mischief charge.

The image of the replica firearm seized by the Transit Police,—Transit Police

The image of the replica firearm seized by the Transit Police,—Transit Police

Update: On Sunday, July 17, Translink Transit Police issued a press release concerning the July 14 “man with a gun” call.

According to the statement, the weapon was found to be a “non-functioning replica of an old flintlock-style gun”. The original alert came from a bus rider, who said that another passenger has “a gun visibly tucked into his belt.” The suspect was identified as 44-year-old Francis Bovin—found to be in breach of probation, including a condition not to possess firearms or replicas. He was released with similar conditions and scheduled to appear before a judge today (July 18). Click the images to enlarge them.

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