Peel police have three men in custody and plan to arrest a fourth after a bloody altercation in a Brampton Sikh community centre left five people with minor injuries.
Police had been advised a meeting in the Sri Guru Nanak Sikh Centre on Glidden Road might turn violent, and eight officers were present outside the building by 2 p.m. Sunday afternoon.
"Members from the temple had contacted police and advised them of the potential for problems," said Staff Sergeant Kelly Kippen. "Police were outside just to ensure that the peace was kept."
Around 3:30 p.m., they were called in to the building to break up a fight in a room where about 70 people had gathered.
He couldn't say definitively what sparked the altercation, save that it was an "internal political squabble."
"The co-operation from people at the temple has helped police enormously," he added. There were about 500 people in the centre engaged in "various community activities" at the time.
"There was probably about 50 to 60 people in the meeting when another group opposed to the meeting tried to interject themselves into the meeting" and started the fight.
Staff Sgt. Kippen said the five victims, all unarmed males, were sent to hospital with minor injuries, the most seriously injured needed stitches to his face, and all were released from hospital by Sunday night.
"Some received bumps to the head and [injuries related to]generally having been assaulted, knocked to the ground and pummelled by numerous people."
Police plan to charge two people with assault and assault with a weapon; the third man in custody with either assault and assault with a weapon or just assault; and are preparing to arrest and charge a fourth person with assault, Staff Sgt. Kippen said.
"We know who we're looking for, it's just that we're tied up trying to deal with the witnesses."
Those being charged range in age from mid-20s to early 60s, he said, adding that the weapons in question were "sharp objects" but he couldn't identify them specifically, save to say that they weren't prohibited items or kirpans.
One man is due in court on Monday; the others may not appear for a few weeks, Staff Sgt. Kippen said.
The incident comes on the heels of a stabbing at Sikh Lehar Centre that left prominent Sikh lawyer Manjit Mangat with numerous stab wounds to the abdomen after witnesses say he was stabbed with a kirpan outside his temple on Bramsteele Road in Brampton.
The incident reignited debate over the safety of kirpans, which have been a lightning rod issue - especially in Quebec, where a protracted court case awarded Sikh schoolchildren the right to wear the ceremonial swords in school.
Staff Sgt. Kippen couldn't say if the two incidents were related.