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The Globe and Mail

Former Oshawa city councillor faces multiple charges after alleged kidnapping

Former Oshawa city councillor Robert Lutczyk has been charged on multiple counts.

The standoff between police and former Oshawa city councillor Robert Lutczyk came to a peaceful resolution Wednesday, but the mystery surrounding the events that led to the 45-year-old father of two being charged with kidnapping a city lawyer at gunpoint only deepened.

Durham Regional Police Superintendent Brian Osborne would only venture that Mr. Lutczyk was upset with city solicitor David Potts "over some business matter he had with the City of Oshawa."

Recent city agendas show no involvement between the municipality and Mr. Lutczyk in the two years since he lost his bid for a fourth term as councillor.

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Friends and current councillors said they have not seen Mr. Lutczyk around City Hall nor has he tried to bend their ears regarding any pressing municipal business.

Councillor James Neal saw Mr. Lutczyk at an event two weeks ago, and again two hours before the alleged abduction, and said both times the former councillor was in good spirits.

"He was with his father and wife and we talked a bit, just normal 'Hey how are you' conversation." said Mr. Neal.

Mr. Neal also spoke with the city solicitor a few hours before the alleged abduction and the lawyer seemed unperturbed.

Other friends told reporters Mr. Lutczyk went to work at Durham College after the election, but the school has no record of him ever working there.

One former councillor who requested anonymity said the incident likely stems from a court battle between Mr. Lutczyk and the city that began eight years ago when the municipality fined Mr. Lutczyk's father, Mitch, for operating an illegal apartment building.

Neighbours had complained that the building's three apartments contravened residential zoning bylaws and the city fined the elder Lutczyk $1,000. A justice of the peace later dismissed the matter, but the municipality appealed and won four years later, even though the Lutczyks had already sold the property for $168,250, according to property records.

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He also clashed with legal minds, councillors and media outlets over use of the name University of Ontario Institute of Technology, which he claimed he had copyrighted.

"I remember him telling me about his issue with theft of intellectual property and he was quite upset when talking about it, but it was so long ago I can't quite see what currency it would have now," said Jack Snedden, who describes himself as a friend of Mr. Lutczyk.

Family members have not been eager to provide any further detail.

"Please write me a letter," his father told a reporter by phone before hanging up.

"There are many stories out there and I'm not giving you another one," said his father-in-law, Karl Heinze Hoos.

The former councillor is charged with kidnapping using a restricted firearm; uttering threats to cause bodily harm; forcible confinement; flight from police; dangerous operation of a motor vehicle; using a firearm in the commission of an offence; and pointing a firearm.

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So far, however, he has not been charged with illegally possessing firearms or ammunition, suggesting he had a permit for the handgun he allegedly used.

He surrendered early Wednesday morning, wrapping up a 27-hour standoff with police that ended peacefully.

The strange story, which at one point involved a bomb scare, began Monday night around 11 p.m. when a man armed with a handgun abducted Mr. Potts in the driveway of his Clarington home.

Police were called after Mr. Potts's worried wife spotted her husband's empty car in the driveway.

Police tracked down the suspect's vehicle about three hours later, at 1:45 a.m., and found two men inside, one in handcuffs.

A high-speed chase ensued, ending roughly one kilometre away, when the car stopped outside a Whitby industrial building at 401 Hopkins St.

Despite his restraints, Mr. Potts was able to escape after police arrived. The other man fled into an industrial unit he had been renting the past month.

Acting on a tip that there was an explosive device in the unit, police sealed off a large part of the surrounding area.

Over the next 27 hours, as heavily armed tactical-squad officers stood by, negotiators spoke to Mr. Lutczyk via cellphone in efforts to coax him out.

He eventually emerged from the unit around 5 a.m. Wednesday morning.

No gunshots were fired.

"The suspect surrendered peacefully, without incident and there's not injuries to anyone in this matter," Supt. Osborne said.

"We're just happy for the conclusion that we have."

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