Update: Police watchdog headed to Nanaimo after officer involved in shooting
An ambulance and RCMP patrol car are among vehicles behind police tape as investigators pore over the scene of a fatal shooting in Nanaimo.
The incident happened just before 11 a.m. when neighbours of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at the corner of Wassell Way and Departure Bay Road heard what they thought were gunshots.
“I just heard some bang, bang and I knew it didn’t sound right,” said Sonjia Grandahl, who lives nearby.
Nanaimo RCMP said, in a press release, police were dispatched at about 10:20 a.m. to the area of Norwell Drive and the Old Island Highway for a report of a man carrying a knife.
Two Nanaimo RCMP members attended and ultimately located the suspect nearby on Country Club Drive. During the encounter with the male, shots were fired by police, RCMP said.
The suspect was transported by ambulance to a local area hospital and has died of his injuries.
No police officers or members of the public were injured.
Physical evidence has been secured at the scene, pending the arrival of the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.
From her apartment balcony, Grandahl said she saw police putting up tape.
A portion of the church parking lot and a section of Country Club Drive, behind the church, was taped off as were several vehicles, including an ambulance and marked police car that had a large, yellow tarp covering its open driver's side door.
“It’s pretty scary, I’d never heard anything like that,” said Brent Frain, another neighbour. “I saw an ambulance here, firetrucks, like, I thought maybe it was some kind of movie set going on at first and then I realized that was real life.”
Police at the scene were not releasing information about the incident, but the Independent Investigations Office confirmed via Twitter at about noon, that it had been notified of an “officer involved shooting” in Nanaimo.
Nanaimo school district said the scene near Wellington Secondary School had been contained and there was no threat to students.
Neither Frain nor Grandahl actually saw the shooting. Both heard what sounded like two gunshots in in quick succession.
Nanaimo RMCP have not confirmed the nature of injuries or who was injured.
Rob Waine, a member of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, was in a meeting in the church when he heard the gunshots.
“I heard thunder, maybe around 10:30 [a.m.] and then maybe five or 10 minutes later I hear popping sounds, maybe a couple, that’s about all,” Waine said.
He heard emergency vehicles rushing to the scene minutes later.
Uniformed and plain clothes RCMP members swarmed into the area as the investigative stage of the shooting got underway and as of about 1 p.m. the scene was still under investigation.
Nanaimo RCMP are referring all further inquiries about the shooting to IIO B.C.
The last fatal shooting involving police in Nanaimo occurred in October 2009 when Jeffery Scott Hughes, 48, was shot during a confrontation with Nanaimo RCMP members.
Details will be added as they become available.
For more, follow photographer Chris Bush on Twitter: @chrisbushphotog, or reporter Karl Yu: @karlyubulletin.