Police fatally shoot knife-wielding man in downtown Vancouver
Abbotsford police called in to investigate incident
Last Updated: Friday, March 20, 2009 | 7:08 PM PT
A Vancouver police officer shot and killed a man on Friday after he refused orders to drop a knife and advanced on police, a police spokeswoman said.
The man, believed to be in his 50s, was a suspect in the break-in of a van parked at the 700 block of Granville Street, Const. Jana McGuinness said.
"We know that the suspect advanced on the officers with the extended blade of an X-Acto utility knife and did not comply with orders to drop the knife," McGuinness said.
"The two officers held the man at gunpoint, but as he advanced he was shot."
The incident began after police received a 911 call about 10:30 a.m, saying two men had broken into a van that belonged to a bottle-recycling company, police said.
'Our officers are trained to use deadly force only when it is necessary to protect themselves or others from grievous bodily harm or death.' — Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu
Two officers arrived on the scene, saw the suspects and then followed them to the 500 block of Homer Street.
When the two officers confronted a man, he produced a blade, McGuinness said. The officers called for backup, but when the man moved toward them, one of them opened fire.
McGuinness said the officer who shot the man is 31 years old. She and her fellow officer, 43, both have five years experience on the force.
Late Friday, Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu announced the police shooting will be investigated by the Abbotsford Police Department as well as the B.C. Coroner's Service and Crown counsel.Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu said police have identified 50 witnesses to the police shooting. (CBC)
"The loss of a life is a traumatic event for everyone involved," Chu said at a news conference.
"We don't know yet the identity of the deceased, but when we do, we will be expressing our condolences for their loss.
"Our officers are trained to use deadly force only when it is necessary to protect themselves or others from grievous bodily harm or death, and no less violent options are available," he said.
Police identified 50 witnesses and were interviewing them Friday afternoon.
Some witnesses told CBC News they wondered why lethal force was used but not a Taser stun gun.
"I think it could have been handled way different. I don't think that this man had to die," Devon Cunliffe said.
Another witness, who didn't want to be identified, said the man appeared to be on drugs and the female officer had no choice.
"He was threatening them [police] with a knife. To defend herself and her partner, I guess, she … killed him," the witness said.
CBC News has learned the man, whose name has not been released by police, lived in the Salvation Army Belkin House, a rehabilitation facility on 555 Homer Street.
Some residents who knew him said he had a record of run-ins with the law.
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