VANCOUVER – A knife-wielding man who stabbed three people on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside was shot and killed by police when less-lethal weapons proved ineffective, says a spokesman for the department.
Sergeant Randy Fincham of the Vancouver Police Department said Thursday night that officers responded to reports at about 5 p.m. of a man stabbing people outside First United Church, located at East Hastings Street and Gore Avenue.
When police arrived, they encountered a knife-wielding man who they tried to arrest unsuccessfully, and ended up shooting with bean-bag rounds, he said.
“The suspect then turned his attention onto a woman who was in the area, he began to stab her, and that’s when police officers who were at the scene shot the man,” said Fincham. “He was attended to by paramedics at the scene on Gore Street, but unfortunately he died at the scene.”
He said two men were treated by paramedics for non-life-threatening wounds, and one who suffered more serious injuries may have been treated in hospital.
The woman was also injured seriously and is in critical condition in hospital, he said.
He said the province’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office of BC, was called and was on scene with members of the department’s serious crimes unit.
Kellie Kilpatrick of the IIO said police will investigate the actions of the deceased man, and IIO investigators will focus on the actions of the police officers. The agency said earlier in the evening that it would not release any information about the man who was killed and that it would be up to the BC Coroners Service to do so.
Bobby Kerr, 39, who is staying in the shelter at First United Church, said he watched part of the incident unfold.
“There was an argument over a bicycle,” he said.
Kerr said after police fired bean bags at the man, “He went to go for a woman and that’s when I heard the last two shots.”
“I’m kind of traumatized… kind of messed up in the head.”
Heather Forbes, who works for the church’s community-ministry society, said she also witnessed the start of the incident.
“What initially happened, and what I personally witnessed, was a violent interaction between a group of men that involved a knife, and then it continued on to Gore Street and I didn’t see anything after that,” she said.
“I head what sounded like gun shots, and that’s all I heard and after that I have just heard stories.”
Forbes said she, as well as members of the church and the community are shaken up, noting the incident is out of the ordinary.
Kilpatrick said an IIO team commander, investigators, forensic specialists, and manager were on the scene. She said the manager will work with the coroners and police to identify the deceased and notify his next of kin.
She also asked anybody who was in the area at about 5 p.m. to call the IIO or the police.