Sheriffs to maintain balance of safety and public access at Alberta legislature after body found Monday

Stock photo of the Alberta Legislature. Scrum with party leaders at the Alberta Legislature after the throne speech to begin the spring sitting of the Legislature.(SHAUGHN BUTTS/EDMONTON JOURNAL) legislative building Shaughn Butts / Postmedia, file

Alberta Sheriffs at the legislature will continue to “strike a balance” between safety and ensuring public access after a body was found on the steps of the building on Monday.

Shortly after 3 p.m. an incident involving a firearm happened on the front steps of the legislature. The sheriffs were stationed nearby but did not have any time to intervene, Jason van Rassel, communications advisor for Alberta Justice and Solicitor General, said in an emailed statement.

Inside, Peace River MLA Dan Williams was giving a speech in an attempt to save his private members’ bill about health care workers’ conscience rights.

Speaker Nathan Cooper interrupted Williams saying there was an “issue important to the assembly” and asked MLAs to leave the chamber and go to their lounges.

Sheriffs responded immediately, cordoning off the area and directing people to use the legislature’s west doors.

“This event has, understandably, prompted questions about safety and security at the legislature and on the surrounding grounds. The legislature and the public spaces around it are Crown property meant for the public’s use and enjoyment,” said van Rassel.

“The Alberta Sheriffs are responsible for providing security at government facilities, while at the same time ensuring public safety at the legislature grounds. We will continue to strike a balance that preserves the safe functioning of our democratic institutions, while at the same time ensuring the public has access to its government and civic spaces.”

According to the family of the deceased, the tragedy occurred as a result of personal mental health issues.

If you or someone you know need help, please call Alberta’s Mental Health Helpline at 1-877-303-2642, HealthLink at 811, or 911 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.