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‘Falling like dominoes’: ERT officers expected to die in Surrey hostage-taking

Cops continue testimony at inquest into the 2019 deaths of Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson
Nona McEwan. (Facebook image)

Corporal Andrew Michaud figured he and at least two other police officers would die once they blasted open a bedroom door with a strip charge and rushed inside, knowing a suicidal hostage-taker with a gun was waiting for them on the other side, aiming to kill his girlfriend and them too.

Michaud is a “breacher,” in charge of getting fellow Emergency Response Team police into places with lockpickers, chainsaws and explosives in his arsenal. He testified Friday (April 19) during a coroner’s inquest into the deaths of Randy Crosson, 48, and Nona McEwan, 45, both killed by police during the March 29, 2019 hostage-taking in the Whalley house she rented. Crosson used her as a human shield, the inquest heard.

“I just pictured us going in and just getting shot and us just falling like dominoes,” he said, sharing the psychology of the situation.

Coroner Margaret Janzen is presiding over the inquest in Burnaby, at Coroners’ Court. It’s expected to run for two weeks, with a jury of four women and a man hearing testimony.

READ ALSO: ‘Dozens’ of gunshots fired in Surrey hostage stand-off, inquest hears

The ERT officers took their place outside the small bedroom, with the first in line gripping a shield.

“There’s three times in my career where I’ve gone through the door and expected to be killed, and this was one of them,” Michaud told the jury. “This is the second. The first time I was not in charge, I was one of the people going through, and it’s a very weird feeling that as soon as this door opens I’m going to get shot, and do I get killed? I don’t know.”

Crosson had already pointed a gun at the armoured vehicle outside and declared: “It’s a good day to die,” Michaud recalled. “He wants to kill police, gave me a one-hour timeline. He knew in one hour we were going to make that decision. But now, he decides to say ‘You have five minutes.’”

“I don’t know what’s on the other end of the door,” he said. “I don’t know what we’re going to face inside. What I do know is that we’re going to go in – we’re going in under his terms – he knows in five minutes or less we’re going to come through that door and we’re going to come at him, and he has a hostage in there.”

“I said, ‘Well, we’re going to take rounds going through this door,’” Michaud said. “The time is ticking.”

The officer with the shield took his position. “I said to him, ‘You’re number one.’”

After a lengthy pause, Michaud continued.

“Me saying that to him, that was my goodbye. You’re going to get shot, you’re going to get killed. But you’re going to take rounds on that shield, you’re going to push in, and we’re going to get now five feet close.

“When you go down,” he said, remembering looking at the second officer, “you’re number two. You’re also going to die. I don’t say it.”

After the first cop went down, he anticipated, the second would be “the fresh guy” pushing forward.

“I’m expecting that he’s ready for war,” he said of Crosson.

Michaud said in his mind after number two gets killed, there will be number three and number four and number five. “Maybe even number three is going to take rounds, I don’t know. But at least, up to that point, I know we’ll be able to respond.”

“Everybody on that team was aware of exactly what needed to happen.”

The inquest continues.

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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