VICTORIA -- The Victoria Police Department seized a loaded firearm and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from a unit inside a hotel that is being used as a temporary shelter amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Police say they seized the gun just before 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the former Comfort Inn in the 3000-block of Blanshard Street as part of a search warrant on a suite inside the building.

Inside the suite, officers discovered a loaded “AR-15 style firearm” alongside the ammunition.

“Investigators feel there is presently no risk to public safety given that this dangerous weapon has been taken off our streets,” said VicPD Const. Cam MacIntyre.

Police say that officers have been responding to an increase in violent crime and property crime in the Burnside-Gorge area of Victoria since the pandemic began.

Due to the increase in calls, police launched “Project Burnside Gorge Connect” in mid-March, which is a program designed to increase police engagement and presence in the area.

“We’ve heard an immense amount of concern from residents of the Burnside-Gorge neighbourhood in terms of what they’re seeing,” said MacIntyre.

“An increase in crime, an increase in violent crime, an increase in property crime,” he said.

Police say that “Project Burnside Gorge Connect” includes adding patrols in the area, increasing communication with the community and promoting VicPD’s block watch program.

Police say the firearm seizure remains under investigation.