PUTNAM COUNTY — Ottawa, Ontario, is the capital city of Canada and current home to a massive protest by over-the-road truck drivers angry about mask mandates related to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ottawa, Ohio, is none of the above.
Apparently some people are struggling to grasp the difference, none more so than a 20-year-old man from Akron, Ohio, who is facing potential criminal charges after he allegedly called in a bomb threat to police in the wrong Ottawa on Monday.
Putnam County Sheriff’s Office Captain Brad Brubaker said the man called their office saying he was going to set off a bomb in Ottawa.
“Our dispatcher stayed on the line with him for quite a while we tried to determine what was going on,” Brubaker said Wednesday. “We ran a trace on the call, due to the emergency nature of it, and got a location in the Akron area.”
But, Brubaker said, the suspect didn’t stop at there.
“He called back a second time claiming he had been shot. When he found out he was talking to Ohio and not Canada he said he hadn’t been shot but was simply trying to waste (Canadian authorities’) time and resources because he didn’t agree with their mask mandate,” Brubaker said.
The caller at that point also admitted there was no bomb, Brubaker added.
The unnamed individual apparently tried to Google a telephone number for police in Ottawa, Canada, and wound up calling the Putnam County office instead.
“You’d think with him being from Ohio the “419” area code might have rung a bell,” Brubaker said. “He told a Canadian news outlet the man was suffering from a “20-year-old dumb attack.”
Brubaker said the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office contacted police in Ottawa, Ontario, to let them know the threat was actually directed at them. He further said he was writing up a report to submit to a prosecutor to consider charges related to the incident.
The Ottawa (Ohio) Police Department posted the following message on its Facebook page in light of the incident: “Just for clarification, this page is the Ottawa Police Department in Ottawa, Putnam County, Ohio. We have been receiving calls, messages and comments from citizens in Canada. Our office wants to ensure your messages and concerns are heard by the correct agency.”
The message drew a humorous reply from Lance Ladd, who posted, “So that’s why there weren’t a lot of trucks blocking the way when I went to get groceries.”
Ottawa Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rosemary Buerger said she also has fielded “a handful” of inquiries, mostly from individuals who are in the process of moving to Canada’s capital city.
“We haven’t had any angry calls, just people moving to the Ottawa area (in Canada) who were asking for our help. We’d told them we’d be happy to help them move to our community,” Buerger said.
Life in Canada’s capital city continues to be disrupted by the presence of more than 400 trucks blocking roads in protest of mask mandates. The ongoing protest has paralyzed the city’s downtown core.