Vancouver police say Gerald Battersby, a former employee of victim Paul Dragan, has been charged with shooting the Reckless Bikes shop owner in Yaletown Tuesday, before being shot during a confrontation with police near Science World.
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The brazen downtown shooting occurred on Tuesday morning near a Starbucks store on Davie Street at Marinaside Crescent, in the upmarket Yaletown area of Vancouver.
Police said Battersby, 61, shot Dragan, 52, multiple times, then exchanged fire with police at the scene, before fleeing on a bike along the seawall.
The suspect was chased by police to Science World, where another exchange of gunfire behind the building led to Battersby being wounded by bullets to the leg, arm and knee.
At a news conference Wednesday, Deputy Chief Const. Doug LePard said this was an unprecedented event in downtown Vancouver.
“I've been a police officer for over 33 years. I’ve never seen anything like this happen in Vancouver.… It is an extraordinary and rare event,” said LePard.
But he also stressed that Vancouver residents should not worry for their safety.
“I don't think that people in that neighbourhood or really any neighbourhood in Vancouver should be worried about being the victim of a random shooting. I don't expect to see something like this — knock on wood — for another generation.”
LePard said Battersby was taken to hospital after the shootout, where he underwent surgery and is now in a stable but serious condition under police guard.
'Nicest person you'll ever meet'
Dragan, the shooting victim, is a businessman and avid cyclist known for his tireless work to improve the cycling community in the city.
Arthur Griffiths, the former owner of the Vancouver Grizzlies and the Vancouver Canucks, has been close to Dragan for more than 25 years.
"This is not supposed to happen to anyone," said Griffiths. "It's tragic, if not devastating, when it happens to not only a friend, but the nicest person you'll ever meet."
Dragan is in stable but critical condition, police said, after being assisted by bystanders who witnessed the shooting.
“The fact that other Good Samaritans helped out, I just really think that speaks to the quality of the people that we have in this city,” said LePard.
'He was bleeding to death.'— Dr. Cliff Chase, credited with helping save Dragan's life
One of those who helped save Dragan was Dr. Cliff Chase, a retired physician with 25 years’ experience as a Saskatchewan hospital emergency trauma doctor.
Chase was getting coffee for himself and his wife, Yvonne, while she was at the bank across the street. When she saw the shooting, she ran to Chase to tell him someone needed his help.
"He was bleeding to death," said Chase. "I pressured off the bleeding. I opened up his airway. I maintained a jaw-lift so he could breathe properly."
Chase said it's difficult to treat people on the street without medical equipment, but he did what he could.
"When I rolled him sideways I saw he had about a six-inch gaping wound in his back, actively bleeding. So, I asked the staff at Starbucks to get me a big towel. They brought it out and I jammed it into his back."
Chase knew Dragan needed CPR but also knew that would be a mistake.
"If I would have actively started to do heavy chest compressions that would have made him bleed out even more," said Chase.
"When they took him away I didn't think he'd even make it to the operating room."
'In awe of police response'
Describing the circumstances of Battersby’s capture, LePard said there were two officers already in Starbucks when the shooting occurred and two others arrived within seconds.
He added that officers on administrative assignment at a nearby police station on Cambie Street also rushed to the scene.
In all, LePard said, eight or nine officers converged on Science World and several exchanged gunfire with the suspect.
A female officer suffered minor injuries, hit by flying glass while inside her car when the windows were shot out.
No other officers were injured. LePard said he was in awe of the police response.
Several of them were new officers, but all conducted themselves with the highest professionalism, LePard said.
“There's no question that this would've been very frightening and traumatic for them.”
Battersby 'talked about killing cops'
Battersby's brother, Carl, like many others, is wondering why his brother allegedly carried out the shooting.
"I'm sorry that it happened and what can I do about the fact that was my own brother that did it?" he told CBC News.
He said his brother Gerald was let go from his job at Reckless Bikes last year, and was then evicted this April from the home he rented from Dragan, the shop owner.
According to his brother, Battersby's behaviour was becoming increasingly erratic and he may be suffering from mental health issues.
"He says, ' Don't be surprised if you hear I've gone and killed somebody. That's what he said.…Talking about wanting to kill cops and people in high power. His mind just snapped on him as far as I know."
Battersby is accused of trying to kill five individual officers, as well as Dragan. Police said he was focused on shooting as many people as possible.
Large areas of the city were locked down as police responded to the shooting and dozens of students inside Science World were made to lie on the floor after the shots were fired.
6 counts of attempted murder
According to LePard, Battersby had some criminal history in the distant past, but was not known to police recently.
Police said they are exploring issues around his mental health as part of the investigation.
LePard confirmed Battersby was a former employee at Dragan’s bike store but could not say if he had been fired.
Police also said they have recovered the weapon allegedly used by Battersby, which they said he did not legally possess.
LePard said video available at the scene provided police with compelling evidence.
Battersby has been charged with six counts of attempted murder and is also facing four firearms-related charges. He is scheduled to appear in court on June 13.
The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has been brought in to investigate the police-related shooting.
Police have interviewed more than 100 witnesses about the shooting so far, but are still trying to establish where Battersby lived.
Anyone with any information, photos or video relating to the shooting is urged to call police at 604-717-2541.