Skip to content

In the line of fire: Armoured vehicle driver testifies at inquest

Inquest into deaths of Surrey’s Nona McEwan and Randy Crosson continues in Burnaby

The Emergency Response Team cop who drove an RCMP tactical armoured vehicle during a fatal stand-off in Whalley five years ago told a coroner’s inquest what it was like to be in harm’s way.

Sgt. Kyle Kuharski testified Wednesday (April 17) at the inquest into the deaths of Nona Marnie McEwan, 45, and her boyfriend Randy Crosson, 48 who were killed by police on March 29, 2019. Crosson was holding McEwan hostage at the time.

“It was broadcast that a firearm was pointed out of the window at the front of the residence, and pointed at me, or the TAV,” Sgt. Kyle Kuharski.

Because he was by himself in the vehicle, Kuharski said, he wasn’t able to pull closed the hatch near his seat. “It was a concern for me at that time because I’m sitting right there, and my head, while it’s recessed inside the vehicle, it is if you’ve seen any movies with tanks, it’s kind of like that, you’re sitting there and then your head is just right kind of like flush with the roof of the TAV.”

Kuharski has been a police officer since 2002 and was an ERT member from 2008 to 2021 in the Lower Mainland, based out of Surrey.

He backed the TAV off of the lawn and down the street to a place he could pull the heavy hatch closed, “just to give myself a little bit more of ballistic protection,” before returning to the front lawn.

“I continued the broadcasts over the PA. I advised Randy that he was under arrest for pointing a firearm at a police officer. I continued to tell him that we needed to talk to him. We told him to call 911, asked him to come out, asked anyone inside to come out, told him, told Nona that we needed her to come out and just kind of went through that narrative.”

Kuharski said he’d received a broadcast on his phone earlier, “that there had been shots fired and that they’d heard a female screaming and that ERT was required.” After scoping out the scene, he thought the best position would be on the front lawn, where he activated the TAV’s emergency lights and sirens and did a broadcast on the “loud-hailer.”

“I told Randy over the PA system that it was the police, that he was under arrest for failing to comply with his release conditions, that we had a warrant for his arrest and that he needed to exit the house. I told him to do this, come out the front door with his hands in the air, and continued to broadcast that.”

“It would be repetitious,” he told the inquest.

READ ALSO: ‘The hardest call I ever did’: ERT commander testifies at inquest

READ ALSO: ‘They brought a tank, that’s pretty scary,’ coroner’s inquest told

READ ALSO: Man shot by police ‘terrorized’ girlfriend’s neighbour, inquest hears

“I remember from inside the TAV hearing yelling, a male’s voice — or it sounded like a male’s voice to me. It’s hard when you’re inside that vehicle, it’s obviously very heavy metal, it’s hard to hear what’s exactly being said, but I remember hearing someone yelling from outside which wasn’t us,” Kuharski said.

Eventually he was asked to “open” the front door of the house with a battering ram mounted on the front of the TAV, but he couldn’t get close enough.

The inquest began April 16 in Burnaby at Coroners’ Court on the 20th floor of Metrotower II with coroner Margaret Janzen presiding. It’s expected to run for two weeks, with a jury of four women and a man hearing testimony.

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

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