Survivor of random shooting says flinch saved his life

A man shot in the head at point blank range by a stranger outside a Vancouver comedy club last week says an instinctive flinch saved his life.

Dave Shumka was grazed by a bullet outside an East Vancouver art gallery

Dave Shumka says a quick reflex reaction may have saved his life 2:11

A man shot in the head at point blank range by a stranger outside a Vancouver art gallery last week says an instinctive flinch saved his life.

Dave Shumka, who co-hosts the podcast Stop Podcasting Yourself and occasionally hosts shows on CBC Radio 3, was shot outside the Little Mountain Art Gallery near the intersection of Main Street and 26th Avenue last week.

Shumka had just taken part in a comedy show inside the gallery and was standing outside afterwards saying good-night to a friend. Then suddenly a stranger hiding something under his shirt ran into the crowd of about 65 people.

"He walked right up to me and said, 'Hey, how's it going?' and took what turned out to be a gun out and put it up to my head," Shumka recounted in his latest podcast.

The incident happened at 26th Avenue and Main Street shortly after 11 p.m. PT July 4, when a 34-year-old man got out of his car and fired four shots just as about 65 people were leaving a wrestling-themed comedy show at Little Mountain Art Gallery. (CBC)

"My initial reaction was to flinch, because it's a guy touching my head," he said. "He fires it at my head, point blank range, I duck and I run away."

Shumka said as he ran, the shooter fired at another person but missed, and then turned the gun on himself and shot himself in the head.

After the shooting stopped, Shumka returned to the area and was surprised to find the badly wounded shooter lying on the ground and people standing around shocked, trying to piece together what had happened.

Later while talking to a police officer he discovered he was actually grazed by the bullet that left a gash in his scalp.

The shooter, whose identity has not been released, died later in hospital of the self-inflicted wound.

Police say they had dealt with the shooter before and he did not have a criminal record, but they are looking into whether he might have had mental health issues.

"The lesson I’m taking away from this is that we need to make mental health a priority in ourselves and in our communities. Support your local mental health organizations in whatever ways you can, financially and by forcing politicians to take the issue more seriously," Shumka wrote in his blog post about the incident.