Children playing road hockey witnessed police shooting of distraught teen

Shannon Windsor says her young children witnessed the shooting and that the 19 year old victim was the one who had called police for help.

Quinn MacDougall was shot and killed by Hamilton police Tuesday on Hamilton's West Mountain

An online fundraising campaign is appealing for donations to assist the family of Quinn MacDougall with funeral and burial costs after he was shot by Hamilton police Tuesday. (Shannon Windsor/GoFundMe page)

Several children playing road hockey were on the street when police fatally shot a Hamilton teen and witnessed the shooting.

Shannon Windsor said her children watched the 19-year-old get shot after they say he called police for help.

Windsor, a neighbour and family friend, says the teen's name is Quinn MacDougall and he had called 911 because he was frightened and afraid someone would hurt him. ​

"They're just a mess," said Windsor, who has been communicating with family members. She says, "they're pretty obviously distraught and horrified."

He was the one calling the police for help.- Shannon Windsor

Windsor has launched a GoFundMe campaign and is appealing for donations to assist the family with funeral and burial costs. The page also names MacDougall and says he was shot while in a state of "severe mental crisis."

Hamilton police say officers were called to a townhouse complex on the West Mountain at about 3:30 p.m. by a report of a threat in progress involving a weapon. 

According to the province's Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the body now investigating the incident, two officers fired their weapons, striking the teen. He was taken to hospital and pronounced dead.

Windsor told CBC News that three of her four children were playing road hockey a few houses away from where the interaction between MacDougall and police took place.

She says there were at least six kids in total on the street at the time. Windsor is questioning actions taken by police.

"Why, if the police thought this boy was such a danger to everybody, why the 10 or so officers wouldn't clear the street of children before, if they thought he had a weapon, before opening fire if they thought they were serving and protecting," said Windsor.

"I just don't understand why they wouldn't clear the children off the street."

Children describe shooting

Windsor's twin boys, 7, were with their older brother, 9 and told their mother what they heard and saw. They were in front of her brother, Chris Windsor's house.

"They described the sound of the Tasers and how it didn't work and they [saw] one go on the ground and then after that Quinn got scared again and I guess he went towards an officer and then two officers opened fire — shot him in the chest area and in the head."

Windsor says when her sons heard the gunshots, they told her they all grabbed their stomach, saying they felt like they were being pulled back. 

When shots rang out, Windsor's brother ran outside and yelled at the boys to get in the house, to which they all started running.

Sam Wilcox, 20, told CBC News in an earlier interview that he and his friend witnessed the shooting. He said officers first used Tasers and called for MacDougall to disarm before the fatal shots were fired.

"They tried to get him down with the Tasers, then he lunged at one of the police officers," said Wilcox. "That's when they took the shots."

Police vehicles blanket the scene behind yellow police tape as neighbours look on after weapon call, prompted the SIU to get involved. (Laura Clementson/CBC)

It isn't clear if MacDougall had a weapon. Neither the children or Wilcox could see if MacDougall had anything in his hand. Some neighbours have previously said they heard he had a knife.

The SIU says while the investigation is ongoing, the unit doesn't comment on, confirm, or share any specific evidence the unit may have gathered. This includes weapons involved, interviews conducted and video evidence.

The agency has assigned five investigators and three forensics specialists to the case. She said there were four witness officers.

Trying to call police for help

Windsor says her sons told her MacDougall first came to them, looking for a phone because his was broken.

"He was very frightened and scared and he needed help and could he get a phone to call 911, the police for help, in which my brother gave him his phone," said Windsor.

I just want everybody to know that Quinn was just a good kid.- Shannon Windsor

Windsor told CBC News she believes the teen made two calls to police — one from his house and another when he went to use her brother's phone.

When the police arrived, Windsor says her brother wasn't worried because "he didn't seem to pose a threat to anybody. He was fearful for himself."

"He was the one calling the police for help. He was under mental distress, he was in mental crisis, he was frightened and he called the police for help."

"I just know that he was fearful that somebody was trying to hurt him or he was scared," said Windsor.

She says he was wearing a light pair of pyjamas and a tight shirt.

"The only thing that my brother handed him and I'll tell you now, is his cell phone back to him because they mixed up their cell phones," said Windsor.

She says shortly after the police arrived her children described how MacDougall became frightened of the police.

"Quinn got frightened by the police at some point and they chased him down the street. They kind of enclosed him. My son said about 11 police officers tried to Taze him."

Windsor says the SIU hasn't interviewed her kids, saying that they don't interview children.

She says Tuesday night her children had trouble sleeping.

"My children were afraid that night of the police sitting outside of the house because they were the ones who did the shooting, so they were afraid of the police."

A man is in hospital after a shooting on Caledon Avenue Tuesday afternoon. (Dave Ritchie/CBC)

Fundraising for the family

Windsor wants people to know that "there's nothing negative about him."

"I just want everybody to know that Quinn was just a good kid," Windsor told CBC News.

The GoFundMe campaign has a goal of $10,000 has been set with all funds raised going towards his mother.

"Quinn deserves so much more than how he was taken from this world. Please help lighten the load on his family while they grieve and try to make sense of their tremendous, unimaginable loss," said the page.

The campaign has already raised just under $2,000 since it's creation Thursday. 

laura.clementson@cbc.ca