Investigators are examining the case of a 73-year-old man who died after an altercation with police in Haliburton County July 15.

The Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU) announced it has assigned six investigators to the case. They reported the matter began when police attended a call at the Minden Valu-mart where the man assaulted an individual. The man left in a vehicle and police later tracked him to a residence on Indian Point Road in Dysart et al.

“Outside the residence, there was an interaction with the man and two officers discharged their firearms,” the SIU said in a press release. “The man was struck. He was transported to hospital where he was pronounced deceased.”

Central region acting staff sergeant Jason Folz said the incident at the Valu-mart began over the mask mandate, which started at indoor businesses across the County July 13 by order of the health unit. Folz said a worker was positioned at the front of the store ensuring people wear masks when entering, with spares on hand for anyone who did not have one. 

“The male suspect refused to wear the mask and assaulted that employee,” Folz said, adding the employee got medical attention for minimal injuries and returned to work later that day.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit mandate requires most businesses to have policies in place requiring masks in their indoor premises. The health unit said the enforcement of its mandate on individuals is educationally focused and businesses are not to refuse people service for not wearing a mask. The mandate also offers exemptions for medical or religious reasons. 

After the alleged assault, Folz said the man left the store in his vehicle, “directly driving at people in an aggressive manner.” Police at the scene attempted to stop the vehicle but discontinued in the interests of public safety, he said.

The SIU said police then located the man at his residence via a query on his licence plate. Harburn Road was later closed in the area as police investigated the scene. Folz said there were shots fired and as a result, more resources were brought to the scene, including the Canine Command Unit and the Tactics and Rescue Unit, due to immediate danger. 

Deanna Steel lives in the closed-off area and was temporarily blocked from going home. She said it was a scary situation.

“It’s awful. I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said when the road was closed that morning. “I’m sure that all it is for is to protect people.”

Folz said no police were injured. 

The SIU is urging anyone who may have information about this investigation to contact 1-800-787-8529. The unit is also urging anyone with video evidence related to this incident to upload that through the SIU website at siu.on.ca.

The Highlander will provide more on this story as it develops on thehighlander.ca

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