The man charged in Tuesday's shooting of the owner of a downtown Vancouver bike shop talked about jumping off a bridge days earlier and complained that his dignity had been taken away, according to one of his former employers.
- CHARGES Gerald Battersby charged in Yaletown, Science World shootings
- BACKGROUND Vancouver shootings: 3 wounded in Yaletown, Science World
- ANALYSIS Is neglect of the mentally ill leading to violence on Vancouver streets?
Gerald Battersby has been charged with the attempted murders of his former boss, Reckless Bike Stores owner Paul Dragan, and of the five officers who were engaged in a shootout with a gunman Tuesday.
He is scheduled to appear in provincial court on Friday to face the charges.
Dragan was shot outside a Yaletown Starbucks across the street from his popular bike shop during the dramatic daytime shootout. He's in hospital in critical but stable condition.
CBC News has since spoken to another former employer of Battersby, Colin Barkhouse, who said he hired him a month ago from the Lookout shelter in North Vancouver, where Barkhouse often goes to hire casual labour.
He said Battersby hounded him for work, so he gave him a job pouring concrete, but about 10 days ago, Battersby was told his time was up at the Lookout and he had to leave, according to Barkhouse.
On Sunday, two days before the shootings in Yaletown, Barkhouse said Battersby came by to collect his last paycheque. He said Battersby was living on the streets of Vancouver — possibly somewhere on the Downtown Eastside
Barkhouse said Battersby also told him his belongings had been dumped from the house he rented. The house was owned by Dragan, Battersby's ex-employer.
Battersby "went ballistic"
Battersby's brother, Carl, told CBC News the belongings had been removed from the house and placed under a tarp. However, someone came by and ordered it dumped.
Barkhouse said Battersby "went ballistic" when he found out because he claimed the camera gear he had in some of the bags were discarded. CBC News was shown what appeared to be self-made business cards describing Battersby as a photographer as well as a drummer.
Barkhouse says Battersby told him, "'They took away my dignity and I'm going to jump off a bridge.'"
Barkhouse said he was "totally shocked" to hear about Tuesday's shootings. He said Battersby appeared to be a "very gentle, well-mannered man who seemed to be somewhat mentally challenged. As well, Barkhouse said, Battersby would sing Sunday school songs while he worked.
According to his brother, Battersby's behaviour was becoming increasingly erratic before the shooting and he thought he might 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."
He said his brother Gerald was let go from his job at Reckless Bikes last year, and in April he was evicted from the home he rented from Dragan.
Barkhouse said he is curious how Battersby was allegedly able to get a gun.