By Steffanie Costigan - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on December 7, 2023.
Coaldale RCMP are investigating a disturbance early Monday morning in Coalhurst.
A Coalhurst man who police are not yet identifying had been reported by several community members on the street disturbing the Lake Drive neighbourhood by walking around naked and vandalizing several vehicles.
Coaldale RCMP on Wednesday released a statement on the situation.
“There were reports of an injured male at this location who was damaging vehicles. RCMP located the male, and he was taken into custody and then taken to hospital. The investigation is ongoing at this time.”
RCMP said there is no on-going public safety concern and thanked the various people who called – the quick reporting which police said “stopped this situation from escalating even further.”
A Coalhurst woman told the Herald she was walking down the street about 7 a.m. at the time with her children when she was encouraged by a nearby neighbour to take safety in the neighbour’s house where she witnessed firsthand the disturbance.
For her family’s safety she only wanted to be referred to as S.J.
She says she witnessed the man vandalizing the vehicles by slamming himself into them.
“We get in the house and we locked the door, the kids are distracted. I’m looking out the window. And there’s this guy, and he just kept smashing his body over and over (on cars) and went after a bunch of other cars,” she said.
“The most damaged one was a small silver car. And then he went over three other trucks and kind of did some damage there.”
She said it looked like he also tore off a windshield from a fishing boat on someone’s driveway and damaged a police car, as well.
She estimated that five or six vehicles were damaged by the man and said the sounds of the vandalism were comparable to gunshots.
“He just kept going and going at this car. Like he punched it. He smashed it with with his head. . . It sounded like gunshots,” she recalled.
She noted when the police came, she saw two ambulances, one firetruck, two police cars and she believes one unmarked police car.
“When (the police came) he charged the police. He went at them, and they got him down. But they had to wait till the ambulance got there to do anything with him,” she said.
“He kept saying over and over, like in a challenging voice, ‘you can call the police now, you can call the police now,’ kind of like (he was) challenging someone.”
S.J. said the man lived in a four-plex with a woman. She said many children live around Lake Drive and people are worried for their safety if he returns.
“You’d see kids playing all the time – you think it’s safe, that it’s fine.”
She said the door to his residence was left wide open and she could see broken items along with blood by the doorway.
A representative of the RCMP confirmed a person living with the man is safe.
S.J. said she feels traumatized by what she witnessed, and the experience has left her on edge along with her children.
“I think everyone’s on edge now. It’s definitely traumatizing. I got sick right afterwards, because of seeing all of the damage, the blood and everything. It made me physically sick. Luckily, I was able to block my kids from most of it.”
She said she doesn’t feel safe in her neighbourhood and fears for him to return.
“I’m scared to death for sure. I know the other neighbours are, too because like I said, it’s a kid-filled neighbourhood.