British Columbia

Attack on Lillooet Bridge River Band leaves community 'in shock'

A small community in B.C.'s Interior is reeling after a young man allegedly attacked almost a dozen people, leaving the suspect dead and 11 people injured.

Suspect dead, 11 people sent to hospital after attack on Wednesday morning

Lillooet Bridge River Band Chief Susan James says the community is in shock following the attack that left the suspect dead and 11 people injured. (CBC)

A small community in B.C.'s Interior is reeling after a young man allegedly attacked almost a dozen people in a band office, leaving the suspect dead and 11 people injured.

"Everyone's still in shock," said Xwisten (Bridge River Band) Chief Susan James. "We're a large family here. These people have worked together for years." 

James said she felt "overwhelmed" with support from fellow band members and from across the province. 

On Wednesday night band members gathered around a fire, drumming and singing, to prepare for the coroner to remove the suspect's body. 

Bridge River Band members gathered around a fire on Wednesday night preparing for the release of the suspect's body from their community. (CBC)

Lillooet RCMP say the man entered the band office with weapons just before 8:30 a.m. PT. Wednesday and assaulted staff. 

The Canadian Press reported that an emergency worker, who didn't want to be named, said the man apparently attacked one person with a hammer, and when others in the office went to help they were also beaten.

Police said when they got there, the man had already been "subdued and restrained." 

Ten staff members of the Xwisten (Bridge River Indian Band) office have been hospitalized following an attack (The Canadian Press)

RCMP members arrested the man but were unable to transport him as he became unconscious and "unresponsive," police said in a written statement. 

"RCMP officers immediately commenced CPR, which was continued by EHS who were staged nearby."

Police say the man was pronounced dead at the scene despite efforts to resuscitate him. British Columbia's independent police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO), has been called in to investigate the suspect's death.

11 people injured

There were initially differing reports of how many people were injured in the attack, but on Wednesday night B.C.'s Interior Health Authority said 11 people were treated for injuries. Two of them were in critical condition and were airlifted to hospital. One was in serious condition and two others suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The other six were released. 

Lillooet is a town of about 2,300, located approximately 250 kilometres northeast of Vancouver in B.C.'s Interior.

Police on the scene of the attack on the Bridge River Band near Lillooet, B.C. (CBC)

Band chief Susan James released first news of the attack earlier today in a written statement that initially reported four people injured, two of whom she said had been seriously hurt.

"A number of our office staff are being stabilized and transferred to other hospitals," James said in the release.

"Our attention now will be on the healing work we need to do. This tragedy has put our community into shock."

Witnesses told CBC News that they saw ambulances and a helicopter en route to the band office.

"As the police investigate, we will not comment on the details of the situation other than to say our prayers are with the families and the community," James said.

With files from Kirk Williams and Canadian Press