Edmonton

Const. Daniel Woodall slaying shocks Edmonton community

Ryan Colton watched from his front porch as eight police officers surrounded his next door neighbour's home. When police knocked on the door, Colton says, the man inside the house refused entry. So the officers fetched a battering ram.

'After 3 hits from the battering ram to the door, that's when he started opening fire,' witness says

A neighbour looks over the blocked-off section of the Edmonton neighbourhood where the shooting took place. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)

Ryan Colton watched from his front porch as eight police officers surrounded his next door neighbour's west Edmonton home.

When police knocked on the door, Colton said, the man inside the house refused entry. So the officers fetched a battering ram.

"After three hits from the battering ram to the door, that's when he started opening fire on the officers," Colton said.

The apparent shooter, Norman Raddatz, was known to police, but did not have an extensive criminal record. 

"I really had no idea what he was capable of," said Colton, who has lived in the neighbourhood for three years. "It just turned into a disaster that night."

People living in the neighbourhood are struggling to understand what led to Monday night's violence, a shootout that left one police officer dead, another wounded, and a house destroyed by fire.

Police went to Raddatz's house Monday night to serve a warrant related to an online hate crimes file with evidence dating back to February 2014.

He just seemed like a real nice guy, really approachable, a guy you could talk to.— Ryan Colton on Const. Daniel Woodall

As police battered the door, Raddatz opened fire from inside the house. Two officers were shot. Police were able to drag Sgt. Jason Harley around the corner and out of the line of fire. The other officer, 35-year-old Const. Daniel Woodall, fell in front of the door.

Colton said the man inside seemed to be firing a high-powered rifle, keeping officers from reaching Woodall.

"It was incredibly loud and you could see the bullet holes in the neighbour's garage door across the street."

Colton said he and another neighbour helped drag Harley farther away from the home once the other officers returned to try to help Woodall. Harley, who was hit in his bulletproof vest, had "a good-sized" hole in his back from the gunshot. He was eventually taken to hospital, treated and released.

Woodall, 35, died of his wounds.

Soon after the shooting started, the house caught fire and eventually burned to the ground.

A body was found in the basement of the burned-out house, police said Tuesday, adding that police are not looking for any more suspects. An autopsy will be performed to identify the remains.

'We are not used to this'

Sheree Zielke, a former crime reporter, has lived in the neighbourhood for almost 30 years. Her home is about half a block from the scene of the shooting.

Roses left by a neighbour lie outside the home where Const. Daniel Woodall was killed and Sgt. Jason Harley was wounded. (Lydia Neufeld/CBC)
She was on her way home Monday night when she saw police cruisers racing down the street.

At the scene, she saw dozens of police cruisers, rescue vehicles and ambulances. She spent about three hours there, on the opposite side of the street from the burning house, until everything quieted down.

Community reaction has been strong since news emerged of Woodall's death, Zielke said.

"If you look at the social media, people are just out in force in empathy and sympathy, and shock that this has happened, because this isn't Chicago," she said. "We are not used to this."

Colton, too, said the neighbourhood is shaken by the shooting. Before the officers tried to enter the house, Colton spoke briefly to Woodall, who wanted to know if Raddatz had any guns in his house.

"He just seemed like a real nice guy, really approachable, a guy you could talk to."

He said the shooting was a tragedy, but he hopes it might serve to remind people about the risks officers take while on the job.

"The news always, or people, try to capture all the bad stuff they do … these guys are putting their life on the line every day for everyone around here to live peacefully," Colton said.

"And I don't think people give them the credit they deserve. What I saw last night, they didn't hold back."

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