Unmasked: The face of Anonymous activist shot dead by RCMP
James McIntyre a 'gentle, innocent' who loved model trains, concerned by Site C
One year after a masked man linked to Anonymous was shot dead by RCMP in northeastern B.C., a relative wants to reveal the true face of James McIntyre.
McIntyre, 48, was killed on a sidewalk by officers responding to a call about a disturbance at an open house for BC Hydro's controversial Site C dam project in Dawson Creek on July 16, 2015.
"Jim didn't deserve to die in a brutal manner," said McIntyre's cousin, Keith LaRiviere, Sr. "The man lying on the ground was not a criminal. He was a victim of police violence."
'Gentle' introvert loved model trains
LaRiviere described the cousin he grew up with as a gentle, innocent, intelligent man who stuttered, rarely conversed with people and loved model trains.
"He didn't go out and play. He didn't join the baseball team with us. He didn't drink. He didn't have a girlfriend. He didn't drive a car. He wouldn't cross the road except at a crosswalk," said LaRiviere. "He was soft."
Métis concerned for the land
LaRiviere said McIntyre's "isolation and huge brain" drew him to computers and helped him connect online with model train enthusiasts across the United States.
He was concerned about the Peace country being destroyed by another dirty project.- James McIntyre's cousin
He said he and his Métis cousin shared a concern for "the soil and our ancestral values."
But he said he had no idea McIntyre was an activist with the online activist group, Anonymous.
After Anonymous claimed McIntyre as a comrade and threatened to avenge his death, the Dawson Creek man made international headlines. Until then, McIntyre had made the local newspaper just once for winning an employee award as a dishwasher.
LaRiviere said McIntyre thrived at his work in the dish pits in a local restaurant and casino, since it was a work station he could run alone.
Despite his introverted nature, McIntyre was extremely close with family, always sitting quietly at family gatherings, and only moving in to his own apartment a few years ago, said LaRiviere.
McIntyre's family has asked for privacy and until now, McIntyre's life — and death — were a mystery.
'This is an environmental issue'
Now, LaRiviere is breaking that silence.
"It's not just a family issue, this is an environmental issue," said LaRiviere.
LaRiviere said his cousin was concerned about the impact of the controversial Site C dam on local First Nations and landowners.
"He was worried about the Peace country being destroyed by another dirty project," said LaRiviere. "If that's Jim's message, don't stifle his voice."
Masked man had a knife
Initial reports to BC's police watchdog alleged McIntyre was shot after a man with a knife "approached officers in an aggressive manner" outside a Site C open house in Dawson Creek on July 16, 2015.
Witness Mike Irmen said the man who was shot was wearing a mask, similar to the Guy Fawkes mask often used by Anonymous and refused to throw away his knife, even as he lay bleeding.
LaRiviere believes his cousin was at the Site C meeting to make a statement, not to hurt anyone.
"Making a statement with that mask makes all the sense in the world to me for Jim, because he was alone in his life," said LaRiviere.
RCMP declined to comment, as the fatal incident is still being investigated by B.C.'s police watchdog.
Watchdog's review wraps up
"The bulk of the investigative work is complete," said Marten Youssef, the Independent Investigation Office's manager of strategic communications. Youssef said an internal review of the investigation still needs to be completed. Until then, there's no official information about what happened or whether RCMP officers acted appropriately.
Youssef says he's aware of reports of Anonymous' interest in the case. But he says that's had no bearing on the IIO investigation.
McIntyre's cousin isn't sure the truth about what happened — and why — will ever come out.
"The truth is with Jim," said LaRiviere. "The truth is with a dead man."