Nanaimo RCMP said a volunteer at a needle exchange found a loaded shotgun in a garbage can and then accidentally fired it on Tuesday morning.
Police said the volunteer was emptying garbage cans behind the Harris House Health Clinic on Franklyn Street at around 10 a.m. when he found what he thought was a toy or a replica sawed-off shotgun.
According to police, the volunteer then picked it up, worked the action and pulled the trigger. To his surprise, the gun went off.
Police said the round went off into the pavement of a neighbouring parking lot. No one was injured in the incident but police are calling it a dangerous situation.
“It could have been tragic because by speaking to the people at the safe needle exchange, they figured it could have been there for upwards of 24 hours. If a child had come across that, it could have had tragic consequences,” Const. Gary O’Brien, spokesperson for the Nanaimo RCMP said.
O’Brien said police are treating the incident as an accident and no charges are expected. Police also spoke with witnesses and determined that employees were outside cleaning up a garbage when a local man asked to help out. When he found the discarded shotgun in a pile of garbage, police said he was overheard making an “off the cuff” comment that he didn’t think the shotgun was real.
Investigators are examining the shotgun to determine if it could have been stolen or used in any crimes.