British Columbia

Homeless advocate Barry Shantz ID'd as man killed in police shooting in Lytton

A man shot and killed by the RCMP near Lytton, B.C., earlier this month has been identified by friends and family as homeless advocate Barry Shantz.

RCMP responded to reports Jan. 12 that Shantz was armed and in distress

Barry Shantz was known around the province for his advocacy work for homeless people. (CBC News)

A man shot and killed by the RCMP near Lytton, B.C., earlier this month has been identified by friends and family as homeless advocate Barry Shantz.

Shantz is known around the province for fighting the City of Abbotsford for the right for people to camp overnight in a city park, winning a landmark court victory in 2015 that set legal precedent throughout the province. 

"He wasn't a bad guy," said his mother-in-law Jean McIntyre, who lives next door to where Shantz lived with her daughter.    

"I've got nothing bad to say about him."

She's still trying to figure out exactly what happened on Jan. 13. 

RCMP were called to Shantz's home just before 8 a.m. because of a report that he was holding a weapon and in distress, according to the Independent Investigations Office of B.C.  

"Fifteen cars were here — police cars, a helicopter and five snipers and a dog," McIntyre told CBC's host of Daybreak Kamloops Shelley Joyce. 

Officers reported shots being fired during the stand-off and, shortly after 2 p.m., an officer shot and killed Shantz. 

"I could hear the shot from here. It was a really loud gun," she said. 

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO), a civilian-led police oversight agency, is investigating the incident. 

McIntyre was close to Shantz, who lived with her daughter, and the two often did errands like yard work or walking their dogs together. 

Her daughter and teenage grandchild were at home during the altercation and McIntyre said she thinks her daughter was the one who called 911.  

"She told the policemen not to shoot because he was under a lot of stress but they didn't listen," she said. 

"Then my son went there and told them not to shoot, or just shoot him somewhere other than where he was going to die."

Shantz was pronounced dead at the scene. 

Advocacy work

Ann Livingstone, his friend and colleague in the Lower Mainland who founded the peer-support group the B.C.–Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors, said Shantz will be remembered for his advocacy work with marginalized people. 

"He was so kind talking to the people in Abbotsford who were homeless at that time — he always showed up with coffee and he fought for them,"Livingstone said. 

"He's very fondly remembered as somebody who made a huge difference in their lives when they were in a very desperate situation."

With files from Daybreak Kamloops

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