Mike Walker says he just wants people to know about the human side of his friend.
Craig Andrew Ford, 49, died in Nanaimo Tuesday after he was shot by police. Ford, who was officially identified by the B.C. Coroners Service Thursday, was allegedly brandishing a knife when he was shot on Country Club Drive behind St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.
“I want to make sure that he wouldn’t come off like real druggie, because he wasn’t,” Walker said.
News of Ford’s death came as a shock to Walker, 55, who said Ford had returned to Nanaimo Saturday, three days before his death, after visiting with his parents in Ontario.
Walker said he knew Ford had struggled with addiction, but had never seen him on drugs or had any indication of drug use.
“I was his closest friend here in Nanaimo,” Walker said.
Ford had a reputation as a talented carpenter. He and Walker, a painter, did numerous jobs together during the eight years of their friendship.
“He was gifted, a talented worker,” Walker said. “He was meticulous and always gave extra, always gave 110 per cent. He had a big heart. So I’d never, ever seen him strung out. That was a side of him that I never really saw and I just contacted some of his past clients and they’d never seen that either.”
Maynard Fitzgerald got to know Ford over a period of a couple of weeks when Ford was hired to install a tile kitchen back splash shortly before Ford left for Ontario to help his parents with some renovations. He described him as “a man who was very introspective and understood himself.”
“It’s just a horrible tragedy that this happened to such a really nice fellow,” Fitzgerald said.
Walker said Ford was always into new things, was a health fanatic and in the years he knew Ford he’d never seen a hint of violence in his personality.
“It shocked me that he was wandering around with a knife because, I mean, he was the most gentle person you could ever meet,” Walker said. “He was a really sweet guy.”
But Walker also described Ford as “an ultra-sensitive guy” who at times could become “overwhelmed by life,” which would lead to feelings of paranoia when life got him down. He returned to Nanaimo after breaking his wrist in Ontario.
Walker also said Ford had been involved in a collision with another car while driving in 2013. No one died, but a young girl in the other car was injured. Ford did some jail time, and had also suffered a temporary coma and a shattered leg in the crash, which confined him to a wheelchair for several months. Ford also did seven months of drug rehabilitation.
“He was trying to get his life back together,” Walker said.