Metro Vancouver Transit Police shot and killed a distraught man inside a grocery store in Surrey, B.C., on Sunday morning, according to the province's Independent Investigations Office.

'[The man] had no shirt on. He started stabbing himself and going up and down the aisles screaming and ranting.' — Blake Simning, boyfriend of witness

The IIO, which provides civilian oversight of serious police incidents, said Surrey RCMP and transit police were responding to a report of a man with a knife inside a Safeway store at 104 Avenue and the King George Boulevard shortly after 8 a.m. PT.

Metro Vancouver Transit Police spokeswoman Anne Drennan said an attendant at the Surrey Central Skytrain Station called transit police Sunday morning to report a man behaving irrationally, banging his head against the wall and yelling and screaming.

Man shot by transit police in Surrey

Police respond to reports of a man with a knife at a Safeway in North Surrey Sunday. (Shane MacKichan/CBC)

Around the same time, she said Surrey RCMP received a call from a convenience store located about 300 metres from the station stating a man had gone behind the counter where the clerk was and was demanding a knife.

"He wanted the clerk to give him a knife, give him a knife," repeating his words, said Drennan.

When transit police arrived at the convenience store, Drennan said the man was gone, but a call had come in for a man with a knife inside the nearby Safeway store.

Man stabbing himself: Transit police

Drennan said when the officers entered the Safeway, they saw a man with a knife who was repeatedly stabbing himself.

"They started talking to him, issuing commands, directions to drop the knife," she said. "He refused to do so. He advanced on the officers and shots were fired."

The man was rushed to hospital but later died of his injuries.

Drennan said transit police in B.C. are a police force certified in the same way as municipal and RCMP police officers and if there's a call and they are the closest police force, they have the authority to respond.

Blake Simning said his girlfriend, who works in the bakery section, was first alerted there was a problem when she heard people screaming in the store. Someone asked her to call 911, which she did.

Man shot

Police tape surrounds the Safeway grocery store in North Surrey after the shooting. (Shane MacKichan)

Simning said his girlfriend then walked to the front of one of the aisles to see what was happening.

"[The man] had no shirt on. He started stabbing himself and going up and down the aisles screaming and ranting," said Simning. 

"She walked back and he chased her up the aisle and she ran back into the bakery and she took a couple of the racks to block him and at that point, police were there."

Simning said the man had walked into the store shirtless and stole the knife off a shelf.

Kilpatrick said the IIO is still conducting interviews and collecting witness reports.

MAP: Safeway store at 104 Avenue and King George Boulevard

With files from Shane MacKichan and Richard Zussman