British Columbia

'Shock, confusion' as 2 wounded and 1 arrested in shooting at Williams Lake, B.C. stampede

One person is in custody after a gun was fired at the Williams Lake Stampede on Sunday afternoon.

Two people were injured but RCMP say both are are expected to survive

The Williams Lake, B.C. stampede grounds and stands of observers are seen prior to a shooting on the annual event's final afternoon on Sunday, July 3, 2022.
The Williams Lake, B.C. stampede grandstand was packed prior to a shooting on Sunday, the final day of the four-day annual event. (Submitted by Cody Call)

Professional bullfighter Cody Call said there was "shock, confusion" and "at first, panic" as a stampede in Williams Lake, B.C., on Sunday ended with a shooting that wounded two people.

Thousands of people were evacuated from the arena on the final day of the Williams Lake Stampede, held for the first time since the pandemic began.

"You don't expect anything like this in small-town B.C.," Call told CBC News.

RCMP said they arrested one suspect in connection with the shooting they believe was "targeted."

Charges of attempted murder and discharging a firearm with intent to endanger life have been approved by the B.C. Prosecution Service. The suspect is set to appear in Williams Lake Provincial Court on July 11. 

Two people were taken to hospital with gunshot wounds around 3:30 p.m. PT, an RCMP spokesperson said in a phone interview.

On Monday, Williams Lake RCMP issued a statement saying the two people who were injured are expected to survive. 

Police still believe the shooting was targeted, but told CBC News that an innocent bystander was one of the two people hurt.

Safe evacuation

Call, 24, was one of three bullfighters helping protect stampede bull riders from cattle during an event.

When they heard of the shooting, they jumped into action to help with the evacuation.

He estimated there were about 3,000 spectators in the stands.

"You could definitely see everyone in the crowd stand up and look right at the top right of the grandstand," said Call, who lives in 150 Mile House, east of Williams Lake.

"And then all of a sudden someone yells, 'Gun! Gun!'

"People in that corner kind of started to panic a little bit. There was a lot of movement directly down the stands ... We all started unpinning stuff and opened up every gate we could, so everyone could exit as fast and easily as possible."

Those efforts — and the calm instructions from the event's announcer — helped ensure no one was hurt as they left the stands, said Court Smith, president of the Williams Lake Stampede Association.

"Thousands of our patrons were evacuated safely," Smith said, in a post on the association's Facebook page. "Our announcer did a fantastic job of having people exit the facility.

"We're waiting for updates from the RCMP to see where things go from here," Smith said.

Investigators do not believe there is any further risk to members of the public, said RCMP spokesperson Kris Clark in an interview Sunday evening.

"We believe that the individuals were known to each other," Clark said.

He asked anyone with video of the incident to contact Williams Lake RCMP.

The four-day stampede started on June 30.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David P. Ball

Journalist

David P. Ball is a multimedia journalist with CBC News in Vancouver. He has previously reported for the Toronto Star, Agence France-Presse, and The Tyee, and has won awards from the Canadian Association of Journalists and Jack Webster Foundation. You can send story tips or ideas to david.ball@cbc.ca, or contact him on Twitter.

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