MONTREAL — Armed police officers converged Friday on the Montreal offices of Ubisoft, a French video game company, in response to a 911 call, and dozens of people were evacuated, but no threat was found and no injuries were reported.
During the police operation, local television reports showed Ubisoft staff on the roof of their office building with doors barricaded. A police SWAT van was seen in the area.
The police did not immediately clarify the nature of the 911 call.
Gilles Douaire, an online programmer at Ubisoft, said the episode appeared to have been a prank, “like somebody confused Friday the 13th with April 1st.”
In a LinkedIn message, Mr. Douaire said employees evacuated to the roof and to meeting rooms in adjacent buildings because the police were “not taking any chances.” Ubisoft Montreal is a campus that occupies several buildings in the area, he said.
Ubisoft employees said they had received instructions from the authorities telling them to barricade themselves, to hide and to put their phones in silent mode.
The incident convulsed the surrounding neighborhood, called Mile End, which is well known for its bagel emporiums, a large Hasidic community and a cluster of high technology companies, of which Ubisoft is one of the major players.
Martin Blais, who works in an art gallery across the street from Ubisoft, said he was enjoying a quiet afternoon when dozens of officers arrived around 1:30 p.m., some with guns drawn. He said the police went from shop to shop on the street, telling merchants and customers to barricade themselves inside.
Unsubstantiated rumors of hostage-taking at Ubisoft, some reported by local media, spread through the close-knit neighborhood, Mr. Blais said, further spurring anxiety.
He said he went to the roof of his building to see what was happening and spotted dozens of Ubisoft employees on their roof. By 3:45 p.m., he saw the police evacuating Ubisoft employees.
“It was frightening,” Mr. Blais said, “it wasn’t clear what was happening.”
“The date is chilling,” he said.
Ubisoft has 17,000 employees at 55 studios around the world, making games like Far Cry, Assassin’s Creed and Just Dance. The Montreal office went through a major recruitment drive last year, and now has more than 3,000 employees, but because of the pandemic, many have been working remotely.
Orignially published in NYT.