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

Inquest into the deaths of a Surrey couple killed by police during a hostage-taking in Whalley on March 29, 2019 opened April 16
Nona McEwan (Facebook photo)

A coroner’s inquest into the deaths of a Surrey couple killed by police during a hostage-taking in Whalley in 2019 opened April 16 in Burnaby with a written statement from the son of Randy E. Crosson, one of the deceased.

“My dad had a hard life and didn’t have the opportunities to get better and to get clean,” he told the inquest. “What you are about to hear is about a man on drugs, struggling with life. But this was not my dad.

“My dad was a loving, caring person who loved all us kids. I’m sorry for what he has done with life, but hopefully today we can learn from this. I love my dad and Nona both the same.

“So my hope today is for a little understanding, and hopefully today we as a family can get some closure for our future.”

The inquest is at Coroners’ Court, on the 20th floor of Metrotower II, with coroner Margaret Janzen presiding. She and a jury are hearing evidence from witnesses under oath.

The jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing deaths under similar circumstances but not any finding of legal responsibility.

A Surrey-based police watchdog – the Independent Investigations Office – in 2020 found the RCMP’s Emergency Response Team blameless in the shooting deaths of Nona Marnie McEwan, 45, and her boyfriend Crosson, 48, whom authorities say was holding McEwan against her will in her rented home.

The standoff saw roughly two dozen police vehicles, as well as an armoured vehicle, surround a home in a cul-de-sac near 132A Street and 100A Avenue.

McEwan was killed when she was struck by two police bullets as ERT officers fired on Crosson, who held a large knife to her throat and had “what appeared to be” a gun in his hand.

Forensic police later found a “realistic-looking” replica pistol between the bed and the wall. Crosson was pronounced dead at the scene and McEwan died in hospital.

READ ALSO: Coroner’s inquest set for 2019 Surrey police-standoff shooting deaths

READ ALSO: Police watchdog finds cops blameless for deaths in 2019 Surrey hostage-taking

READ ALSO: Surrey mom killed in hostage-taking remembered as ‘loving, sweet and kind hearted’

Brandon McEwan, Nona McEwan’s son, told the coroner and jury “it’s kind of hard to talk about her,” wiping away tears.

“She was awesome.She was a great person, a great friend,” he said. “She was a great mother.”

He phoned 911, telling police Crosson was believed to have a gun and his mom wasn’t safe. “They brought a tank, that’s pretty scary.”

McEwan was asked if he recalled how things ended. “Shitty,” he replied.

“These guys are supposed to be trained professionals and it didn’t seem that professional in my eyes,” he told the jury.

Crosson’s probation officer Rob Ryhorchuk testified he was assigned to his case in 2015 after Crosson was convicted of robbery.

Crosson’s criminal history began in 1996, primarily involving break-ins, theft, assault, carrying a weapon and numerous convictions for failing to comply with court orders. In 2003, he was convicted of assaulting McEwan and released on probation. “His explanation of the offence to his supervising probation officer at that point was that he threw a sandwich.”

He was ordered not to have contact with her or her family for one year. “I believe Mr. Crosson attended Ms. McEwan’s residence and threatened her father, her mother and herself saying he was going to burn their house down.”

He was convicted of uttering threats and breach of probation. “I believe there was another two-year probation order,” Ryhorchuk told the inquest.

Ryhorchuk said probation officers typically deal with 55 to 60 clients at any given time.

MacDonald noted his report was based, in part, on the statements of 25 “civilian” witnesses, seven paramedics and 38 witness police officers.

A toxicology report indicated Crosson had methamphetamine, amphetamine, fentanyl, nor-fentanyl, heroin, ethanol, THC and naloxone in his system.

The inquest continued after Now-Leader press time and is expected to run for two weeks.

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

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