The initial reports were almost too strange to believe.
Late Monday night, Oshawa’s top municipal lawyer was abducted outside his home, his alleged captor a former local politician. Within hours, the solicitor had escaped and was safely back home.
But what began as an oddball news item snowballed when Durham Regional Police confirmed that the suspect had barricaded himself in a Whitby, Ont., auto repair shop. Former mayor John Gray later confirmed reports that the lone man inside was Robert Lutczyk, a rabble-rousing former city councillor.
By Wednesday morning, more than 24 hours after the standoff first began, Mr. Lutczyk surrendered and was taken into police custody.
The episode began around 11 p.m. Monday night. Oshawa’s city solicitor, David Potts, pulled into his driveway after a city council meeting that had adjourned 45 minutes earlier. He never made it to the front door, according to Mayor John Henry.
“He was taken against his will,” said Mr. Henry.
The solicitor’s concerned wife saw her husband’s empty car in the driveway and called police, who contacted the mayor. For the next three hours, he would liaise with police and his chief administrative officer in an attempt to track down the missing city staffer.
Relief came at 1:52 a.m. Police called to say that Mr. Potts was home safe.
At that same early morning hour, police were surrounding 401 Hopkins St., where Mr. Lutczyk had allegedly barricaded himself inside.
Negotiators worked all morning and through the evening to coax Mr. Lutczyk out.
Jack Snedden, a friend of Mr. Lutczyk’s, turned up on Hopkins St. to see if he could talk the former councillor into coming out, but police turned him away.
“I did manage to talk to someone who talked to him,” said Mr. Snedden. “They said he plans on giving himself up tomorrow [Wednesday] when it’s light, though that sounds strange. I have arranged for him to have a lawyer and that’s been communicated to him.”
Mr. Snedden couldn’t account for his friend’s alleged behaviour. He characterizing Mr. Lutczyk as a political “rabble-rouser” who made a positive impact on city hall. “Without rabble-rousers things don’t move forward,” he said.
Others who know the former councillor were accustomed to his past political hijinks.
“He was a solid councillor with some slightly bizarre ideas,” said former council colleague Louise Parkes.
She added that he is a devoted father of two and the proud son of a Polish Second World War hero.
Early in his political career, which began on Oshawa city council in 1994, Mr. Lutczyk advocated caning, according to Mr. Gray, the former mayor. Within a decade, he had earned a national profile advocating ideas such as a city annexation of the Turks and Caicos, moving the Hamilton Ticats to Oshawa and getting rid of “creepy people” from the downtown.
He was also litigious, threatening legal action against those who used the phrase “University of Ontario Institute of Technology” – a name he trademarked.
That unconventional interpretation of intellectual property law often led to his butting heads with the city’s legal department, said Mr. Gray. “But I’m not aware of any bad blood.”
He was a man who could hold a grudge, said the former mayor. After both men lost their positions in the 2010 election, they had a brief encounter at a restaurant. “He walked in,” said Mr. Gray. “When he saw that I was there, he turned around and left.”
But he also maintained his loyalties. When Mr. Snedden was charged by the Ministry of Natural Resources for dismantling beaver traps, the councillor testified in his defence. “That’s why I went down there today,” said Mr. Snedden. “He helped me in my time of need.”
With a file from The Canadian Press