Gamers visiting the Starlight Casino in New Westminster, British Columbia were greeted with an unwelcome situation Thursday morning. People were trapped inside the casino when an armed man engaged in a standoff with local police, which resulted in the casino placed under lockdown and traffic diverted from the area. Police attempted to better communicate with the armed suspect by offering a cell phone for negotiations.
New Westminster Police Inspector Phil Eastwood has said the man is alone, but considered armed and dangerous. Initially a woman was believed to have been involved with the man, but police later confirmed the woman was safe and that the incident is not a hostage situation. Eastwood says people inside the casino have been told to remain inside to avoid putting the public in any further danger.
“While there is no immediate danger to the public at large, they are requested to respect the police barricades that are set up around the area.”
As a result of the standoff, roads and highways surrounding the casino have been shut down to traffic and pedestrians. This includes the Queensborough Bridge, which spans over the Fraser River through the Greater Vancouver area. Traffic was stopped on the bridge shortly after the incident at Starlight began.
Police and reporters in the area were also eager to uncover how gamers inside the casino were reacting to the standoff outside. An employee was reached by phone, who said that people inside the casino were continuing to place bets as usual. The incident in the parking lot has not disrupted normal operations in the casino, and people have continued to play their favourite games. However, the dozens of police cars and armored trucks blocking the entrance has prevented more gamers from entering the casino.