A 31-year-old Courtenay man has been charged with numerous firearms offences after a two-vehicle collision Monday that led to school lockdowns in Port McNeill.

RCMP in the North Island community say they got a call reporting a vehicle had rear-ended a pickup truck near the 350 km marker near Port McNeill.

Police says when officers attended the scene, they saw a man from the vehicle throw an item into the ditch.

The two occupants of the vehicle were transported to the hospital and Mounties recovered a firearm where they believed the item had been thrown.

While the man was being arrested on a firearms charge, he fled on foot and into a forested area near a local school.

“Although there was no direct threat to the school or the students, it was immediately determined to have the school institute their lockdown procedure until the suspect was located and arrested,” Port McNeill Cpl. Nathan Lingley said in a release.

Local businesses were made aware of the situation and Lingley says they took necessary precautions.

About 600 students at two Port McNeill elementary schools and North Island Secondary School were told to stay inside by police.

Campbell River RCMP police dog service was utilized and the suspect was later arrested, but not before a struggle with police and the dog near Cardena Crescent in Port McNeill.

Police identified the suspect as Justin Chester, who was taken to hospital for injuries and then transported to Port McNeill RCMP.

The police services dog handler had to be treated for an injury received during the arrest struggle.

A female passenger in the vehicle was later released and will have a court date in February 2020.

Officers searched Chester’s vehicle and found evidence of drug trafficking, including several illicit drugs, cash, multiple cell phones, and several types of ammunition.

Port McNeill RCMP says Chester has been charged with several firearms offences and is custody until Dec. 10.

“What started as a simple collision investigation has lead the Port McNeill detachment to (the) arrest of (a) and the removal of a quantity (of) drugs from the streets of Port McNeill. Drug charges are anticipated as evidence is processed,” Lingley said.

CHEK News