Barrie police believe an improvised explosive device (IED) placed on a car caused an explosion in the parking lot of an apartment complex at 108 A Anne Street North early Wednesday.
Posts by individuals on social media reported a blast around 3 a.m.
Police spokesperson Peter Leon confirmed it was at about that time that first responders were alerted about an incident in the area of Anne Street North near Edgehill Drive.
“Upon arrival at the scene, it was obvious that a vehicle had been subject of a detonation of sorts,” Peter Leon said at a press conference near the scene.
He added that the explosion occurred in and around the gas tank of the vehicle, which was in the apartment complex parking lot.
Minor damage to the vehicle, says Leon, while a car parked next to it also sustained “some damage.”
Leon says a search of the area revealed an unexploded IED, with the explosive disposal unit being called in around 8:30 a.m.
“For reasons unknown, at this point, an IED did dislodge from the vehicle that was targeted and that was located a short distance away in a garden area,” Leon said. “The explosive disposal unit was called and … they moved in with the remote robot and were able to remotely and safely detonate the IED.”
They believe what dislodged from the initial explosion was either a piece of the same device that initially exploded at 3 a.m., or was a second device, according to Leon.
“A closer examination of the scene is being undertaken by the forensic identification unit of the Barrie Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police,” said Leon.
He says there were no injuries from the ordeal, but there was a partial evacuation of two buildings adjacent to the scene – around 20 or so people were evacuated who were in apartment units that were close to, or facing out toward the parking lot.
Residents living in the area had been asked to shelter in place, though Leon says that it was done as a precautionary measure.
“We are slowly starting to reduce the area of investigation, and we hope to be able to relax the provisions that were put in place, obviously, the situation is very different from where it was earlier this morning,” Leon said.
Around 5:30 p.m., police reopened east and westbound Edgehill Drive and northbound Anne Street, though southbound Anne Street from Letitia Street to Edgehill Drive will remain closed.
As for suspects, Leon says the investigation is in its early stages.
“We are going to see what type of video [footage] is available to us,” said Leon. “Any evidence [officials] locate will provide them with the information that they need to certainly continue with the investigation and hopefully find the person or persons that are responsible for this.”
Anyone with information or who was travelling in the Anne Street and Edgehill Drive area at the time of the incident (3:00 a.m.) and has dash camera video is asked to contact police at 705-725-7025.
“This could have been a very different outcome if human life was in that parking lot area,” stated Leon. “We can only be grateful and thankful that at that time of the morning, there was nobody coming or going.”
Images captured by Barrie 360 (Ian MacLennan)
– With files from Ian MacLennan (Barrie 360)