Ex-husband of Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller arrested in toxic chemical link

Shannon Miller was part of USA's gold-medal winning gymnastics team in 1996.

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TORONTO —  A 42-year-old man was arrested at an Ottawa hotel Wednesday following an overnight investigation linked to the discovery of what police said were dangerous chemicals 1,400 kilometers (870 miles) away in the Halifax area of Nova Scotia.

The type and extent of the chemicals were not immediately disclosed. But authorities considered them serious enough to evacuate two Halifax neighborhoods and the Ottawa hotel, and the suspect was arrested after negotiations with police, said Ottawa Const. Chuck Benoit. Police later said no hazardous materials were found in Ottawa.

A senior government official said the suspect is a chemist with no known criminal record. The man’s current wife notified police because of her concern about his irregular behavior and his travel to Ottawa, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

Police declined to release the man’s name. However, the business manager of former U.S. Olympic gymnast Shannon Miller said police called Miller to let her know that the suspect was her ex-husband, Christopher B. Phillips. The couple divorced in 2006 after seven years of marriage.

"I’m thankful that the brave men and women of the Ottawa police department and other law enforcement agencies were able to apprehend him and (defuse) the situation without incident," Miller said in a statement released by her manager, Nick Furris.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police were alerted to a suspicious package by a concerned citizen in Halifax, eventually leading to the evacuation of homes Tuesday morning. The package was determined to contain hazardous materials but not explosives, the RCMP said. Five homes elsewhere in Halifax were also evacuated as police found hazardous and volatile materials there as well.

Late Tuesday night, Ottawa police went to the Chimo hotel along with tactical and hazardous material teams. Guests were sent to other hotels.

Benoit said police made contact with the suspect early Wednesday morning.

"The negotiation went on and the individual exited the unit where he was staying on the sixth floor, and an arrest was made without incident," Benoit said.

The suspect has not yet been charged with a crime.

Miller and Phillips were married in a lavish ceremony that featured many of her teammates from the 1996 U.S. squad that won the team gold medal in the Atlanta Games. Miller also won two silver and three bronze medals in 1992 in Barcelona and an individual gold medal in the balance beam in Atlanta.

In 2009, Washington state’s medical board alleged unprofessional misconduct against Phillips, who was licensed to practice as an ophthalmologist there.

Phillips ran an eye care clinic in Bellingham, about 15 miles south of the Canadian border, which he bought in 2007. Several patients complained to the state medical board that Phillips made guarantees that he could surgically correct their vision to 20/20, documents show.

Phillips maintained that he made proper diagnoses and provided proper care and that he obtained proper full informed consent from his patients, licensing records show.

To resolve the matter, Phillips agreed in 2010 not to renew or reactivate his medical license, which he had let expire. Meanwhile, the Medical Quality Assurance Commission agreed to end further disciplinary proceedings against him over the allegations.