A man wielding a knife tried to break into the Vernon Restholm Aug. 14 while residents and staff were inside. (Security footage)

Knife-wielding man tries to break into Okanagan retirement home

Seniors and staff shaken by incident and upset with RCMP response

Residents and staff at Vernon Restholm are shaken after an armed man tried to break into the facility on Wednesday, Aug. 14.

Two female staff members were working in the kitchen when they saw a man through the large windows who started banging on the door and wanted to get in. The two staff were quick to close the blinds and try and shield the 48 residents from the incident, although the constant kicking noise was unavoidable. One resident also alerted them when he saw the man pull out a large knife. The man also allegedly took the knife to one of the staff members’ car.

“He looks like he’s 40 years of age and a good height and everything,” said Vernon Restholm manager Jerry Tellier of the incident that occurred at 5:30 p.m.

“He just started kicking the door, and he continued to do that until the police arrived at seven minutes after 6.”

It’s that delay, of 37 minutes and five phone calls to RCMP, which Tellier is most upset with.

“It’s unacceptable,” said Tellier, adding that the man was arrested, charged with mischief under $5,000 and released with a promise to not appear at Vernon Restholm again.

“Couldn’t they have kept him under the mental health act? Carrying a knife like that, is he a danger to himself, is he a danger to others? They could have kept him at least for observation.”

Following the ordeal, Tellier has filed complaints with the Civilian Police Commission. And since speaking with RCMP, Tellier says they admit there was a breakdown somewhere.

Meanwhile the situation isn’t the first for staff and residents dealing with vagrancy and crime in Vernon.

“It’s just getting worse and worse. We just had that incident 2.5 weeks ago just down our alley (where a senior was assaulted), the guy was charged with armed robbery.”

READ MORE: Second-quarter police report shows assault, theft on the rise in Vernon

READ MORE: Public safety focus of North Okanagan-Shuswap MP meeting


Jennifer Smith | Reporter

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