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Security guard accused in Edmonton city hall shooting makes court appearance

Some of the damage sustained at Edmonton city hall on Tuesday, January 23, 2024. (Submitted by City of Edmonton - image credit)
Some of the damage sustained at Edmonton city hall on Tuesday, January 23, 2024. (Submitted by City of Edmonton - image credit)

The security guard accused of firing shots and causing a small fire with Molotov cocktails inside Edmonton's city hall on Tuesday is being held in a maximum security unit in the Edmonton Remand Centre.

Bezhani Sarvar, 28, appeared by video Thursday in Edmonton's Court of King's Bench.

Wearing an orange jumpsuit, Sarvar didn't speak during his brief appearance.

He is facing six criminal charges, including reckless discharge of a firearm, using/placing/throwing an explosive substance, arson, possession of incendiary material, using a firearm while committing an offence and careless use of a firearm.

Sarvar had been scheduled for a bail hearing, but his defence lawyer, David Ibrahim, requested that the case be put over while he waits for Crown prosecutors to provide him with the information he needs to prepare for the hearing.

Sarvar is next expected to appear in court on Feb. 2.

Sarvar has worked for security company Corps of Commissionaires since 2019.

He was assigned to a variety of locations across Edmonton but never worked as part of the security detail in city hall, the company said in a news release on Wednesday.

Ibrahim said he was retained to represent Sarvar on Wednesday.

He said he's only spoken with his client briefly and can't comment on the allegations at this point or speak to Sarvar's state of mind.

Ibrahim said he has also been in touch with Sarvar's father and brother-in-law, and that he expects that when a bail hearing is held, it will take at least a day or two.

"Obviously, that's always the goal," Ibrahim said when asked if he'd be seeking his client's release.

CBC has confirmed with four people who know Sarvar that he is the person who appears in a roughly four-minute video that is circulating online, including on YEGWAVE's Instagram page, in which he describes wide-ranging thoughts about modern society while referencing a mission.

It's not clear when or where the video was recorded.

In a news release Wednesday, EPS said the video is under review.

"Our officers are working closely with our national security partners on this investigation," police Chief Dale McFee said in a statement.

"I would like to reassure the public that we believe there is no further threat to public safety at this time. The investigation is in its early stages, and we will continue to update Edmontonians as it progresses."

Police say they are working with the RCMP Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams (INSET) — a specialized unit that investigates issues related to national security — on the investigation.

Edmonton police officers were seen entering the home of a man accused in a Tuesday shooting incident at city hall.
Edmonton police officers were seen entering the home of a man accused in a Tuesday shooting incident at city hall.

Edmonton police officers were seen entering the home of a man accused in a Tuesday shooting incident at city hall. (Peter Evans/CBC)

Police officers were observed entering Sarvar's home in a north Edmonton apartment building on Thursday.

Other residents of the complex told CBC News that Sarvar has a wife and children, and said that he seemed normal and quiet.

"I'd never seen any arguments or fights or interactions with other tenants. It was very cordial, said neighbour Louise Hackman.

City hall review

Edmonton's city hall remained closed to the public on Thursday and workers could be seen trying to repair what appear to be scorch marks on the marble floor in the main hall.

Ward O-day'min Coun. Anne Stevenson said she's not sure when it will re-open, and that the timeline will be based on both ensuring it's safe to back and staff well-being.

Some of the damage sustained at Edmonton city hall on Tuesday, January 23, 2024.
Some of the damage sustained at Edmonton city hall on Tuesday, January 23, 2024.

Some of the damage sustained at Edmonton city hall on Tuesday, January 23, 2024. (Submitted by City of Edmonton)

Stevenson said she expects there will be a thorough review of safety procedures in city hall. She said that while ensuring safety is important, it's also critical that city hall remain open and accessible to the public.

Stevenson wasn't at city hall on Tuesday, but said one of her staff members was inside the building and found herself nearby when the armed suspect entered city hall.

Stevenson said the staff member managed to get away and into a safe place with two other colleagues where they spent about an hour on the phone, connected to 911 before eventually being safely evacuated from the building.

"It was a terrible moment," Stevenson said. "So very, very hard for someone that you care for to be in that position."

The staffer declined an interview, but Stevenson said the employee has told her that while the experience was frightening, she's grateful to the first responders and everyone who offered support that day.

In a statement Thursday, city spokesperson Janice Schroeder said repairs are underway to floors, windows, doorways, carpets and walls, and that there is no information available yet about the cost of repairs or a reopening date.