Vancouver police say shooter tried to kill 5 officers
Published Wednesday, June 11, 2014 9:03AM PDT Last Updated Wednesday, June 11, 2014 8:19PM PDT
Vancouver’s acting police chief says “putting an end to the rampage” was the department’s priority after a shooter opened fire on five officers outside one of the city’s busiest tourist attractions.
“It is extraordinary. I’ve been a police officer for 33 years and I’ve never seen anything like this in Vancouver,” Doug LePard told a packed press conference the day after a bike store owner was shot outside a busy coffee shop in the Yaletown area.
The suspect exchanged shots with police outside of Science World, several kilometres away, after fleeing the initial scene on bicycle.
Gerry Battersby is charged with six counts of attempted murder: One in connection with the shooting of his former employer, Reckless Bike Shop owner Paul Dragan, 52, and the other counts for allegedly shooting at five Vancouver police officers.
The 61-year-old also faces four firearms offences, including possessing a restricted firearm and unlawful discharge. He remains at Vancouver General Hospital under police guard.
Dragan underwent surgery for a single gunshot wound and is in stable but critical condition.
Carl Battersby told CTV News his brother stopped working for Dragan in December, and that he was upset about being evicted from a Granville Street rental property operated by the bike shop owner.
“He was mad at Paul,” Carl Battersby said. “He had nowhere to go.”
The suspect was evicted from the property in April, but police aren’t sure where he had been staying since then.
Police have not confirmed the motive, but speculate that the shooting may have been triggered by the landlord-tenant dispute.
Carl Battersby said his brother has mental health issues but was not seeking treatment.
“He didn’t want me to help him,” he said.
Investigators are also exploring whether the shooting is related to mental health issues.
“On the face of what happened you have to wonder about that,” LePard said.
A moving crime scene
LePard said the shooting could have been worse if two VPD officers had not so close to the initial crime scene when shots rang out.
One of the officers commandeered a bicycle and pursued the suspect after he fled.
LePard says Battersby used an illegal firearm to shoot at officers at both locations.
“He fired at police officers there and fired at multiple officers at Science World,” he said.
A female officer was in her unmarked cruiser outside of the science centre when it was struck with bullets. She was injured by the shattered glass but only suffered minor injuries.
Battersby was struck by police gunfire at least three times after shooting at officers, LePard said.
“He was hit in the arm and the leg and the knee…he was seriously wounded,” LePard told reporters.
A gun was seized when the suspect was taken into custody, but police have not said what caliber or type of weapon it is.
Professional counselling is being offered to the officers that were involved in the shooting.
“It’s not something that officers normally experience,” LePard said, adding that some of the officers were young constables, while others were seasoned veterans.
“There’s no question this would have been frightening and traumatizing for them,” he said.
The B.C. Independent Investigations Office, which probes officer-involved shootings, has interviewed more than a hundred witnesses who were at the shooting scenes, both high-traffic areas.
Six officers from the IIO, including two forensic officers, have been assigned to the case.
Its findings will be sent to the agency’s civilian chief for review to determine if officers acted within the law when they shot the suspect.