A report of a possible hostage-taking at the Montreal offices of French video game company Ubisoft that brought out a massive police response Friday, November 13, was being investigated as a hoax, local media said.
Canadian broadcasters TVA and Radio-Canada cited unnamed police sources saying what had originally been reported as a hostage situation ultimately turned out to be a prank call from someone inside the building who’d demanded a ransom.
Police did not immediately confirm the reports, saying only in the early evening that the operation linked to the hostage-taking call was over.
“No threat was detected and there were no injuries,” police said in a statement, adding that they were investigating the origin of the call.
Authorities had announced on Twitter that the massive deployment started at about 1:30 pm, but offered few details while urging people to “avoid the area” near St-Laurent Boulevard and St-Viateur Street in Montreal’s Mile-End neighborhood, close to downtown.
About 100 staff were evacuated.
Television images showed the streets around the brick building cordoned off and heavily armed officers entering, as well as dozens of Ubisoft workers who appeared to have barricaded themselves on the rooftop.
A company employee reached by telephone told public broadcaster Radio-Canada that about 50 people were led to the rooftop terrace by managers who then barricaded the door leading to the stairwell with furniture.
Others were seen by an Agence France-Presse journalist at the scene being escorted out of the front entrance.
“This is insane. This is my team on the roof,” tweeted Ubisoft senior community developer Eric Pope, who was working from home.
Ubisoft is best known for video game titles such as Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, Far Cry, and Assassin’s Creed.
Some 4,000 people would normally be working at its Montreal offices but many have been teleworking during the COVID-19 pandemic. – Rappler.com