Toronto

Man shot dead by OPP after mask dispute was 'very reclusive,' neighbour says

A neighbour of a 73-year-old man who was fatally shot by Ontario Provincial Police officers in Haliburton County on Wednesday morning says the victim lived in the area for several years but didn’t seem to have any friends.

'He's just very much to himself, doesn't want anybody around,' Garfield Munshaw says

OPP/SIU markers outside the Minden, Ont. home of the man shot and killed by the OPP. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

A neighbour of the 73-year-old man who was fatally shot by Ontario Provincial Police officers in Haliburton County on Wednesday morning says the victim lived in the area for several years but didn't seem to have any friends.

CBC News has confirmed the victim's identification, but is waiting for police to name him after they notify his next of kin.

The OPP said the man had refused to wear a mask and allegedly assaulted a grocery store employee before driving away. He was later shot dead in a confrontation with officers near his home. The province's police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), is now on the case.

"He was a very reclusive man. He's been here, I'd say, between eight to 10 years," Garfield Munshaw told CBC News. 

"He built a big new house, will not have nothing to do with anybody … He won't even speak. He's just very much to himself, doesn't want anybody around, you know. He had big no trespassing signs.

"He's a strange, strange man," he added.

"You never see anybody there; he's always by himself. Nobody ever goes there. He lives by himself and it was strange." 

'He doesn't bother anybody'

After neighbours got to know the man "everybody just let him do his thing," Munshaw said. 

"He doesn't bother anybody, so just leave him alone, but yeah, it was kind of a strange thing when we heard that yesterday. I'll tell you," he said, referring to the shooting.

Police were called to a Valu-Mart in Minden, Ont., just after 8 a.m. on Wednesday, OPP Sgt. Jason Folz said.

Officers spotted the man's car and tried to stop it, but they refrained "in the interest of public safety" before doing a follow-up investigation, Folz said.

According to the SIU, the man drove away, and an officer saw the car and started following it for a short while. Based on the licence plate, officers made their way to a home on Indian Point Road.

Outside the home there was an "interaction," and two police officers fired their guns, the SIU said.

Folz said that after shots were fired, "additional resources" were brought to the area near Eagle Lake, by the village of Haliburton, about 215 kilometres northeast of Toronto.

The man was shot and taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 11:47 a.m., the SIU said.

'I heard a couple high-powered gunshots'

Munshaw described the area as "very quiet," adding that everybody has big acreages.

"It's a quiet place and everybody's ... like a family ...  Everybody's there to help everybody else and that's the way we are. Most of us are retired down here too," he said.

Munshaw said the peace and tranquility was disturbed by the sound of gunshots.

"I heard a couple high-powered gunshots. My grandson lives with me for the summer ... and he said, 'Boy, they were high-powered rifles, Pa,'" Munshaw explained.

Another view of the scene near the home of a 73-year-old man shot and killed by the OPP after a dispute over wearing a mask in a supermarket. (Martin Trainor/CBC)

He said he got into his car and drove down the driveway to see what was happening and saw heavily armed police officers.

"One cop come over to me and said, 'Just go back in your house and lock the door, we've got an active shooter,' and that's what we did," Munshaw said.

"We got back in the house and about 15-20 minutes later I heard a barrage of bullets. I heard a number of bullets and my grandson said … 'That guy would definitely be down,' and sure enough, he was right."

Post-mortem to be conducted Friday morning

In a news release issued Thursday morning, the SIU said investigators had recovered a pistol and a semi-automatic rifle from the scene. The firearms of two police officers were also taken into evidence, the agency said.

Investigators continued to search the scene Thursday, the SIU said, and were also making attempts to locate the man's next of kin.

A post-mortem examination is set to be conducted Friday morning. Four OPP officers have been designated witnesses to the shooting, and arrangements for interviews are underway, the SIU said.

With files from Lauren Pelley and Sabrina Jonas

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