One week later, Hope RCMP are still unable to speak about what exactly happened inside Fraser Canyon Hospital’s emergency room after a man was shot dead by an officer.
“I can still basically just say that IIO (Independent Investigations Office) is still investigating. And that’s pretty much it,” said Sgt. Mike Sargent.
The deceased was part of a collision at the Zopkios off-ramp on Highway 5, that took place last Wednesday (June 28) — the day of the shooting. Several people were taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
During this time, IIO said that an altercation allegedly occurred between two of the injured people and police responded. An interaction, between a man and the Hope RCMP, then occurred in the hospital’s emergency department and resulted in an officer discharging their firearm.
The man was pronounced dead on the scene.
One witness, Darlene Butterfield Boucher, who was in the waiting room with her husband, said she heard what she thought were four gunshots being fired in the ER.
“We all looked towards the ER because we knew it was coming from there. And someone opened the doors and people started coming out of the emergency room into the waiting room. And one guy came out and said, ‘everybody, everybody get outside.’
“My heart was just racing because I thought there’d be like a guy running out with a gun and shooting people or something. So, I was pretty shaky for a while.”
Boucher, who ran outside with everyone, said she heard from a man (who she believes was part of the collision group) that the deceased had been armed with a knife.
“I don’t know if it was him that was arguing with the other guy at the car accident scene or not. All I know is, I heard him say that the guy lunged at the police officer with a knife. And the police officer shot him.”
After the incident, Fraser Canyon’s Emergency Department temporarily closed while an investigation took place. The department later reopened on Thursday.
Staff at the hospital have been placed on a gag order and are unable to speak with the media about what took place.
“While we are relieved our patients, staff and medical staff are physically safe and unharmed, we recognize the significant psychological and spiritual impact this deeply distressing incident has had on everyone who was present,” a Fraser Health news release reads. “We have supports in place including social workers and our Critical Incident Stress Management team to help them through this difficult time.”
Fraser Health praised medical staff for “professionalism and commitment to caring for their patients in the midst of an unprecedented situation.”
As Fraser Canyon Hospital dealt with the incident, Chilliwack General Hospital staff travelled to Hope to relieve impacted staff and BC Emergency Health Services provided additional resources while the emergency department was closed.
“As far as I’m concerned, the staff and the police handled this thing so awesomely,” Boucher said. “Just like, it was so professional. And they took care of everything.”
The IIO is the Independent civilian oversight agency of the police in B.C. It investigates all officer-related incidents that result in serious harm or death, whether or not there is any allegation of wrongdoing.
For this case, the IIO is asking any person with relevant information of the incident to please contact the Witness Line toll-free at 1-855-446-8477 or via the contact form on the iiobc.ca website.