Skip to content

Police probe homicide, arson and knife-wielding man this weekend

‘This is still a safe place to live and the recent calls don’t change that,’ says Barrie police official following busy 48 hours
Police closed off an alleyway and the sidewalk in front of several buildings on Dunlop Street East as part of a homicide investigation Monday morning.

It has been a busy 48 hours for city police with downtown homicide, several acts of arson and knife-wielding man all contributing to the long-weekend call list.

Barrie police communications co-ordinator Peter Leon told BarrieToday on Monday afternoon that despite the recent calls, he believes the city is still safe.

“This is still a safe place to live and the recent calls don’t change that,” said Leon. “

Leon said homicide detectives are still investigating the death of a 47-year-old man after a confrontation between a group of individuals Monday, just prior to 8:20 a.m., near Trinity Anglican Church at 24 Collier St. 

The mortally wounded man made his way to a Dunlop Street East business where he collapsed.

He initially received medical attention from the County of Simcoe Paramedic Services, but was pronounced dead after being transported to local hospital.

No arrests have been made in Barrie's first homicide of 2023, but Leon assures the public that officers are on it.

“We believe there is no threat to the public and this is isolated in nature, given the circumstances we’ve investigated so far,” he said. “We are utilizing a countless number of resources to identify the person and/or persons responsible for this homicide.”

When asked how many people were being sought, Leon said he couldn’t speak to that part of the investigation.

Police are asking anyone who may have witnessed the interaction, or may have been driving in the area and has dash-cam video, to contact investigators at 705-725-7025.

In a separate incident the night before, not far from where the homicide happened, police and Barrie Fire were dealing with a suspected arsonist

That call came in around 10 p.m., Sunday, regarding an exterior fire at St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, however officials say the call was soon upgraded as smoke had filled the Owen Street building

Three more smaller fires had been set nearby and, just over two and half hours later, police arrested a 37-year-old and charged him with three counts of arson and failure to comply with probation order. 

The arson suspect, Lance Freeman, was held in custody and was scheduled to appear by video for a bail hearing later Monday.

On Saturday, police also arrested a man who had allegedly been chasing people with a knife in the areas of St. Vincent Street and Livingstone Street East. 

In that incident, a 46-year-old man, of no fixed address, was arrested and charged with assault with a weapon and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose 

He will be appearing in court on March 27.

Police are also asking anyone who saw that incident at 8:30 a.m., Feb. 18, to contact them immediately. 

“We have two incidents where arrests have been made and a third where police are fully investigating to bring some resolution to as quickly and efficiently as possible,” said Leon.

“Yes, it was a busy weekend for police and possibly concerning for residents, but three calls do not make a city bad," he added. "There were isolated incidents and residents shouldn’t feel any less safe than they did the day before the first one.”