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Vancouver police shoot suspect after alleged assault on officer in Downtown Eastside

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Vancouver police say they shot and injured a man in the Downtown Eastside Saturday morning after he allegedly attacked a patrol officer with "a weapon."

The incident happened around 8 a.m. near the intersection of East Hastings and Columbia streets, the Vancouver Police Department said in a statement Saturday afternoon.

According to the VPD, two officers were sitting in a patrol car at the intersection when "a man carrying a weapon approached the police car and struck an officer through an open window."

Police did not specify the type of weapon the man was carrying.

"The officer sustained a serious head injury and was taken to the hospital for treatment," the VPD said in its statement. "A 53-year-old suspect was injured and taken to hospital, where he remains in custody for assaulting the officer."

A large police presence gathered at the scene, and the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. confirmed it had been called about the case.

In its own statement on the incident, the IIO made no mention of the alleged assault on a VPD officer, saying only that police driving in the area had "observed a man waving a weapon."

That was followed by "an interaction," during which shots were fired by police, according to the IIO. 

Images from the scene show at least a dozen marked and unmarked police vehicles parked on East Hastings Street, some of them blocking the road. Police tape can be seen criss-crossing the intersection and the nearby sidewalks.

Neighbourhood residents and bystanders gathered near the scene, and videos posted on social media show some tense exchanges between police and onlookers.

Police said a bystander assaulted one of the other officers who responded to the scene after the initial assault and shooting. The bystander was arrested and the officer was able to continue his shift, according to police.

In a tweet, the VPD said Hastings Street was closed between Main and Carrall streets and Columbia Street was closed between Pender and Cordova streets. The roads reopened after several hours.

The IIO is called whenever a police incident in B.C. results in death or serious harm to a member of the public. The office investigates to determine whether police action or inaction contributed to the injury, and is called to all such events, regardless of whether there is an allegation of wrongdoing on the part of police.

Saturday's incident is the fourth shooting involving a Vancouver police officer that the IIO has been called to investigate since late April.

The first happened on April 27, when officers responded to reports of an assault inside a home near Commercial Drive and East 5th Avenue. That incident involved "an exchange of gunfire" and left a 40-year-old suspect dead, according to police. 

The second incident happened less than two weeks later in the Downtown Eastside. In that case, officers were responding to reports of an assault with a weapon at the Patricia Hotel on East Hastings Street. When they arrived, they were "confronted" by a man in his 40s, who died at the scene after what police described as an "altercation" in which "shots were fired." 

More recently, the police watchdog was called on July 16, after a confrontation between police and a break-in suspect near Commercial Drive and East 2nd Avenue that was caught on camera. The suspect in that incident – who police said was "armed with a gun" – was injured and taken to hospital. 

In June, the IIO's chief civilian director Ron MacDonald told CTV News his office had seen a "dramatic increase" in the number of investigations it has had to take on in recent years.  

The IIO asks anyone with "relevant information, dash cam or other video" related to Saturday's incident to contact its witness line at 855-446-8477. Tips can also be provided via the contact form on the IIO website

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