'Why did my mom and brother have to die?' 2 years, no answers in police-involved shooting

Two years after a 73-year-old woman and her 39-year-old son were killed during an RCMP standoff in northwestern B.C, there are few answers as to what led to them being shot outside their home in a small village of around 300 people.

Senior and adult son were fatally shot during police standoff outside their home in northwestern B.C.

Shirley Williams, right, shown at home with son, Jovan, left, was remembered as a woman who loved celebrating holidays. (Contributed)

Two years after a 73-year-old woman and her 39-year-old son were killed during a police standoff in northwestern B.C, there are still no answers as to why they were shot outside their home in a small village of around 300 people.

"Why did my mom and brother have to die?" asked Shonte Williams, referring to the the incident that took the lives of Shirley and Jovan Williams in Granisle, B.C., about 150 kilometres east of Smithers.

Shone Williams said she's received few updates from officials since the deaths.

"Every time I've chatted with [investigators] I'm told, 'Oh, it's just a little bit longer,'" said Williams.

With few official details, Williams has tried to piece the story together herself. She said she's spoken to witnesses and has been upset by some of the details.

"Knowing that they were killed, and I know exactly where... it was horrible," she said.

'Dispute involving a handgun'

Williams' mother and brother were killed April 21, 2016. According to RCMP, police were called to a "neighbour dispute involving a handgun," at around 12:30 p.m. PT.

When they arrived, officers surrounded the home and tried to make contact with the residents.

RCMP said Jovan Williams left the house, confronted the officers and was shot. Shortly after, Shirley Williams also left the house. She too interacted with police and was shot, police said.

Shirley Williams was remembered as a southern belle from Memphis who embraced her northern life after marrying a Cheslatta Carrier man from B.C. (Contributed)

The province's police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office, was called in to review the case. The investigations office seized both police and non-police weapons, but has not confirmed the type or how they were used.

The Independent Investigations Office's chief civilian officer, Ron MacDonald, said the probe is nearly complete, but added it should have been wrapped up by now.

MacDonald blamed the delay on a case backlog. He said improving investigation times is a top priority.

"Two years is longer than I find acceptable."

Victims remembered as gentle, generous

At a funeral held in Burns Lake in May 2016, mourners remembered the Williams as gentle, generous people.​

Originally from Memphis, Tenn., Shirley Williams moved to British Columbia after marrying a member of the Cheslatta Carrier First Nation.

Her son, Jovan was a former U.S. Marine, and a former custodian, who had recently moved to Granisle to be with his mother.

The funeral for Shirley and Jovan Williams was paid for by the Cheslatta First Nation. Jovan's father is a member of the First Nation. (Facebook)

Shonte Williams moved into her mother's Granisle home for a period of time after the shootings to care for family pets, but now lives in the U.S.

She said after the shooting, false rumours spread in the community that family members had unaddressed mental health issues.

Those rumours, some of which were published in local media, were upsetting, she said.

Granisle 'resilient': mayor

Shortly after the shootings, Granisle Mayor Linda McGuire described the event as "unsettling," noting the village is predominantly made up of seniors.

A community meeting was held with the Independent Investigations Office, with a follow-up meeting promised once the report is complete.

McGuire said the level of concern in the community has since receded.

"In the last three of four months I've had maybe two inquiries from citizens," she said. "It hasn't, certainly, been prevalent."

About the Author

Andrew Kurjata


Andrew Kurjata is a radio producer and digital journalist in northern British Columbia, situated in the traditional territory of the Lheidli T'enneh in Prince George.