Crowdfunding page raises thousands for Edmonton man fatally shot by police

Vitaly Savin was shot after allegedly coming at an Edmonton police officer with a hunting knife last week. Almost $7,000 has been raised for Savin's family online.

His friends say they are waiting for a complete investigation into the incident

Vitaly Savin, shown here in an undated photo, was shot and killed during a confrontation with an Edmonton police officer Thursday. (Facebook)

Sergey Timoshchenko's cell phone has been ringing non-stop since last week's police shooting claimed the life of his friend Vitaly Savin.

Many of the calls are from people asking Timoshchenko about what happened and what they can do for Savin's family.

"Most people calling about how they can help," said Timoshchenko in an interview with CBC Edmonton.

"I'm personally talking to people who are saying, 'Listen I'm not working right now, I don't have any money to send, maybe I can participate in the funeral process and help with something, or maybe I can drive someone.'"

As of Monday evening, a crowdfunding page started for Savin's widow had raised almost $7,000. Meanwhile, thousands of people have viewed Savin's Facebook page, which has since been memorialized.

"Looking through the pages on his Facebook, when people across the world, we probably have already more than 10,000 viewers reading through all this information, and people start asking, 'Listen guys, how are you going to help the family?'" Timoshchenko said.

'The next thing is the police called her'

On the afternoon of March 9, the Edmonton Police Service received two 911 calls from citizens reporting a possible impaired driver.

A patrol officer, driving a marked police vehicle, located the vehicle being driven by Savin in a cul-de-sac near Hollands Landing in the Hodgson neighbourhood in southwest Edmonton.

The officer pulled over the driver. Both got out of their cars. There was a confrontation, according to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team. 

Savin, 55, was shot several times by the officer and died of his injuries.

Since then, Timoshchenko has talked to Savin's widow about last week's shooting.

He says she saw her husband on Thursday morning before he left the house and didn't notice anything peculiar about him.

"She said he just went out around one o'clock and she thought he was probably going to the grocery store or going to check the cars and the next thing is the police called her."

On his Facebook page, Savin had posted "Russia all wins" last Thursday at around 1 p.m.

The post was made around the time a Russian team was wrapping up a soccer game in the Europa League.

Less than an hour later, Savin was pulled over and shot by police. 

His friends say they will wait for a complete investigation into the incident, and prefer not to speculate over what may have happened.

For now, they want to help the family of a man who they say is being remembered as a patriotic Russian. 

Patriotic Russian

Irina Mierzewski, vice-president of the Russian Canadian Association in Alberta, remembers Savin as a very outgoing person, having seen him at various Russian community events over the last eight years.

She says she was driving home when she heard about the shooting on the radio. It wasn't long after that she found out it was Savin.

"We met at the different community gatherings, Russian community gatherings, always friendly always saying, 'Hey, how are you doing? Come over have tea with us.'" said Mierzewski. 

She said she had just seen Savin at a recent event where the community celebrated the arrival of spring.  

While talking about him, Mierzewski became emotional and said that Savin's death has been a shock for the tight-knit community. 

"It's just community, family," said Mierzewski starting to tear up.

"It's tough."

Both Mierzewski and Timoshchenko hope to see Savin's crowdfunding page grow in the coming days.

Savin's funeral arrangements are currently being planned and his funeral is expected to take place at the St. Barbara Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Edmonton.