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Drew Butler, arrested in Mic Mac Mall 'threat,' questions police response

03/04/2015 03:35 EST | Updated 05/04/2015 05:59 EDT
Drew Butler, one of three people arrested after a tip to Crime Stoppers prompted the closure of a Nova Scotia mall on Tuesday, says police didn't do their homework before he was taken into custody.

A tip about a "threat" at Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth spurred a daylong manhunt. Butler, who was arrested on Tuesday afternoon and released a few hours later without charges, said he hasn't slept since 

Butler told CBC News on Wednesday that when he found out police were looking for him, he was the one who called police. An hour later, officers stormed his sister's apartment in the Clayton Park neighbourhood of Halifax.

"When I came outside of my door, there was like a good amount of SWAT officers at the end of the hallway, giving me orders, and it sucked," he said.

On Wednesday, Halifax police said it was a tip to Crime Stoppers that set Tuesday's events into motion. Police also said a copy of that anonymous tip was mistakenly left at the apartment of one of the people arrested.

Butler said he saw the tip was about him and was alarmed by its content.

"The Crime Stoppers tip said I was in possession of a 9-mm handgun and a switchblade and ammunition and other dangerous weapons," Butler said. He denied having those items.

Butler also said the Crime Stoppers tip named him as Andrew Butler, even though Drew is his legal first name.

The 24-year-old said his sister and her boyfriend were also arrested, with guns pointed at their heads.

"Maybe police should look more into people before they just jump to conclusions and accuse people of being terrorists, and it's just, people's lives get ruined over things like that," he said.

Looking into forgotten paperwork

Police said they are looking into the paperwork left behind after a search of the apartment.

"The officer that dropped the piece of paper came forward today, and we are taking steps to make sure it does not happen anymore," Const. Pierre Bourdages said Wednesday.

"It was a mistake. That Crime Stoppers tip was reproduced a number of times because it contained a picture of the suspect. We wanted the greatest number of officers to be aware of who we were looking for."

Bourdages said police continue to investigate the validity of the threat made against the mall. He would not discuss the details of what the tip was or what the tipster said.

"That's what led us to all those different scenes that we secured yesterday, so we're following up," he said.

"As you know, we have no way to determine exactly who left the Crime Stoppers tip. Crime Stoppers is designed to be anonymous, so we're still following up on the validity of that threat."

Bourdages said officers were still on the scene at Mic Mac Mall, which reopened Wednesday.

Major police response

The Crime Stoppers tip touched off a significant police response in Dartmouth on Tuesday.

Mall officials learned of the potential threat in the morning and chose to evacuate and close the building. Police surrounded Mic Mac Mall and also went to a house on Everette Street in Dartmouth — which turned out to be empty.

Two schools — one near the mall and one on Everette Street — were put into a "hold and secure mode" because of the police activity.

Then, at 3:40 p.m., three people — including Butler — were arrested after police went to an apartment on Willett Street. The two men and woman were released by 9:30 p.m., with police saying they did not believe they had any involvement in the perceived threat.

Bourdages said the level of police response matched the perceived threat.

"We have to go with the information we have," he said.

"The information available led us to Mic Mac Mall, to Everette Street and then Willett Street. That's what we have to do. We have to follow the information and the evidence we have."

An alleged mass shooting plot in Halifax, foiled by police several weeks ago, was also the result of a Crime Stoppers tip. Police said that was to happen at the Halifax Shopping Centre on Valentine's Day.

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