A cigarette lighter mistaken for a firearm ignited a massive police response to a possible armed robbery in Nanaimo June 12. (Photo submitted)

A cigarette lighter mistaken for a firearm ignited a massive police response to a possible armed robbery in Nanaimo June 12. (Photo submitted)

Mid-Island RCMP arrest two at gunpoint before determining lighter was misidentified as gun

Police respond in force after report of man with firearm in Nanaimo on June 12

Two men on central Vancouver Island were arrested at gunpoint and their vehicle searched by RCMP after a cigarette lighter was mistaken for a firearm.

Police responded in force at about 4 p.m. last Friday after receiving a 911 call, reporting a man with a black pistol had just walked in to the Piper’s Pub on Hammond Bay Road in Nanaimo.

According to police, moments later the same man and another male were seen exiting the pub with a case of beer and left in a vehicle. The witness conveyed the vehicle’s licence plate number to police, who responded with multiple vehicles, found the suspect vehicle heading westbound on Hammond Bay, pulled the vehicle over, closed a section of the road, removed the two men from the vehicle at gunpoint and arrested them for pointing a firearm.

The firearm turned out to be a cigarette lighter that resembled a mini blow torch and no weapons were found in the vehicle. A photo of the lighter was shown to the witness who confirmed it was the item seen.

The two people who had been detained were released from custody with no charges and, according to an RCMP press release, both men agreed they could understand how the lighter could have been confused with a real gun.

“The officers also stressed to the males that it might be time to consider moving to a more conventional lighter,” Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said in the release.

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