Man killed by Hamilton cops owned multiple guns, friend says

The Hamilton man who was shot and killed by police near the Upper Wentworth ramp to the Linc Friday morning owned multiple guns, a close friend says.
Ontario's Special Investigations Unit is probing a shooting death by police near the Upper Wentworth street ramp to the Linc Friday morning. (Adam Carter/CBC)

The Hamilton man who was shot and killed by police near the Upper Wentworth ramp to the Linc Friday morning owned a number of guns, a close friend says.

The man was a registered gun owner but had no history with police, says Geoff Smith, who told CBC Hamilton he had been a friend of the man for many years. His family has asked his name not be released.

Smith wonders if the existence of his friend's guns collection played any role at all in how police handled the confrontation that led to his death.

Officers were called about the man wandering in traffic on the Linc just after 9 a.m. Friday. When police arrived, he fled into a wooded area to the south of the intersection and officers followed. There was a confrontation, Hamilton police said, and the man was shot "multiple times," according to an SIU press release.

After the man was shot, officers headed to his home and confiscated all of his firearms, Smith says. "They were all present and accounted for," he said. Hamilton police wouldn't confirm or deny if that was the case.

"We're not able to comment because this is an SIU investigation," said police spokesperson Catherine Martin.

SIU spokesperson Monica Hudon wouldn't say if that was the case either, or if the man had been armed when he was shot. "That's not something we can confirm or deny until the investigation is over," she said.

Family frustrations

Smith says the man's family has been very frustrated with what little information police have provided about just what happened Friday morning.

"The police have not contacted the family to give them any official notice or rendition of the version of events that led to [his] death," Smith said.   "His mother was very upset that she doesn't know anything and no answers have come forth at all aside from what they have read or hearsay through his friends," he said.

"They are in so much grief."

Smith says he and the man were very much like family for over 20 years. The two met at a bodybuilding competition years ago and had been friends ever since.

"He was just a friendly, fun, amazing person who loved my family and was always there for us when we needed him," he said. The man had taken care of Smith's kids during a recent hospital stay, too. "They called him uncle."

The shooting took place just steps from the man's home, which he shared with his girlfriend. The couple is expecting a child, Smith said.

Man checked himself into St. Joes

He says the man had been dealing with an anxiety problem, and was undergoing a voluntary psychiatric assessment at St. Joseph's Healthcare. The man left Friday morning to "go for a walk" he said, but didn't take bags with him or completely sign himself out, he said.

St. Joeseph's Healthcare president Dr. David Higgins told CBC Hamilton he couldn't discuss specifics of the man's visit or treatment because of patient confidentiality. He said in cases like these, the patient is assessed for a diagnosis alongside any risks they might present, and treatment is administered from there. But the hospital has no authority to keep a voluntary patient against their wishes.

"If the treatment is voluntary, they can leave if they so wish," he said.