News / Halifax

Mystery man who gave out free money in Halifax detained in P.E.I. mental hospital

A man believed to have handed out free cash across HRM last week has been sent to a Charlottetown hospital for a mental-health assessment, say police.

Sgt. Leanne Butler said Prince Edward Island RCMP received a call for a wellness check on the man, Richard Wright, last Thursday. Butler said the officers spotted Wright driving his car and stopped him.

“The officers concluded that the gentleman should go to the hospital for further assessment by a medical health person,” she said.

Butler said he was not arrested or charged because this is not a criminal act.

On Sunday evening, Chelsey Wright posted a photo of her father on Facebook to call attention to what she says has been “unfair” treatment by the hospital and police.

She said Wright was returning to P.E.I. after their family spent March Break in Halifax where he shared “some extra money” with needy people. She said her father had worked hard to save up the funds.

Social media was buzzing about Wright’s assessment Monday, with many people calling for his release. A Facebook group was started Monday morning titled #OpFreeRichardWright, and now has over 1,200 members.

Health P.E.I said in a release they cannot comment on specific patients or their care due to privacy reasons.

“A patient is always admitted at the clinical recommendation of a physician who has met with and assessed the patient,” said the release.

Pierre Bourdages, spokesman for Halifax Regional Police, said they received a report of suspicious activity in the Elmwood Street area of Dartmouth on March 18th, but he couldn’t say if the man was Wright.

He said when police pulled over the vehicle, officers called the mental health crisis team for assistance, but after speaking with him they determined there was no cause for further action.

“I can tell you this individual didn’t break any laws,” Bourdages said.

Dozens of people in Dartmouth and Halifax reported getting $50 and $100 bills from Wright last week. He told them to “thank God” for the act of kindness and pass on the money if they didn’t need it.

Jennifer Corbett received $150 when she met him in Dartmouth, but said his positive comments about how “things will get better” stuck with her more than the money.

Corbett said she was excited when she saw the photo of Wright on Facebook because she never thought she would see him again.

“I don’t think it’s fair that this happened,” Corbett said Monday morning. “I mean do you think that people are going to want to do good after this?”

She said she called Wright in the mental-health ward of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on Sunday night to thank him and “give him back a little bit of what he gave me,” and he sounded in good spirits.

“He was a good guy, and he did something good for a lot of people,” she said.

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