An East Side parking lot of a McDonald’s restaurant was the scene Tuesday of a police shooting for the second time since 2012.
Police have released few details but confirmed officers shot a 28-year-old man after he allegedly confronted them with a knife. The man is in hospital being treated for non-life threatening gunshot and knife wounds. The parking lot is the same one where officers shot and killed Christopher Ray, 52, on Oct. 29, 2012.
Const. Brian Montague, a VPD media liaison officer, said police were in the area shortly after 1 p.m. on an unrelated call when they were alerted to a car burning in the McDonald’s parking lot at Hastings and Cassiar. The car, which had a Quebec licence plate, was destroyed in the fire, which heavily damaged a van in the neighbouring parking stall.
“When officers went to deal with the car fire and keep the public away until firefighters could arrive, they were confronted by a man armed with a knife,” Montague said in a statement. “The man allegedly came at the officers and shots were fired.”
Larry Carlston said he was standing on a sidewalk across Hastings Street when the shooting occurred. He said he heard the shots but didn’t see police initially shoot the man.
Carlston said police were at a meeting inside the former Ramada Inn, which is where he lives with others in temporary housing, when residents told officers about the car engulfed in flames.
“They came whipping across [the street] and they were all standing around the fire, then I turned away for a second and all of a sudden I hear pop, pop and I turn around and there’s this guy on the ground,” said Carlston, who didn’t recognize the man as a tenant of the building. “He got popped again while he was trying to get up. But he’s struggling, he’s not going anywhere. Then when all the cops rushed on him, then they started kicking at him.”
Carlston said he couldn’t tell if the man was armed with a knife.
An employee of a marijuana dispensary adjacent to the parking lot said customers told him the man set the car on fire before he started to stab himself. The employee, who didn’t want to be identified, said customers told him the man then advanced on officers.
More than 20 officers were at the scene, including one who was forced to chase down a crow that picked up a knife with its claws and flew a short distance before dropping back in the parking lot. The crow, which had a red band attached to its left leg, also tried to make off with a pair of eyeglasses in the lot and steal gear belonging to a television camera operator. Locals identified him as "Canuck," a crow that has become an online sensation.
The Independent Investigations Office is investigating to determine whether police committed any offences in the shooting. The VPD, meanwhile, will investigate the actions of the man prior to his confrontation with police. Several witnesses from an apartment building located across the street from the shooting were loaded into a police van for questioning.
Back in May 2013, the investigations' office cleared the officer involved in the shooting of Christopher Ray in 2012. Ray was killed after police responded to a report in the 400-block of Skeena Street of a man behaving erratically, including cracking the window in the lobby of a condominium complex and striking vehicles.
The report from the investigations’ office said an officer shot Ray twice after he advanced on him “in what seemed to be a sprint.” After Ray fell to the ground outside the restaurant, the officer found a Leatherman multi-tool knife on the ground next to Ray.
Several witness accounts revealed the officer repeatedly told Ray to stay back and keep away. One witness told investigators Ray was running “with his hand stretched out, like the guy was going to go and try to stab the cop.”