A Canadian border guard was shot at Douglas (Peace Arch) crossing Tuesday afternoon, and her shooter killed himself.
The officer, identified as Lori Bowcock, was shot in the neck shortly before 2 p.m. and was airlifted to hospital. She is in stable condition, according to the RCMP Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, which is investigating the incident as an attempted homicide.
At a news conference at Peace Arch Park 2½ hours after the double-shooting, RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet said the shooting of the officer and the suicide of the gunman occurred at the same time.
“The instant following the shooting of the officer, the lone male had been pronounced dead at the scene from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Paquet said.
The gunman’s body remained in a white van with Washington State plates, stopped by the booth of the northbound lane closest to the Canada Customs building.
(His identity had not been made public at Peace Arch News press time.)
A blanket covered the windshield, and the licence plate number was also obscured.
A witness who was in the lineup told reporters he heard a single shot, followed by the sound of someone screaming, and then saw a border officer running towards the van with his hand on his sidearm.
“It was just a pop,” said Delta resident Brian White, who was in the Nexus express lane, returning from what he had expected to be a brief trip for gas.
“It wasn’t really loud at all.”
The muffled sound seemed to come from the inside of the van, White said.
“One girl was screaming.”
He saw one officer running toward the van, then others
at the van with their guns drawn.
Golfers at nearby Peace Portal course also reported hearing what sounded like gunfire.
“The first one to come in and say something was actually one of our members. They were on the 18th green,” assistant general manager Kevin McAllister told PAN. “She heard two shots fired.”
The sound of emergency vehicles racing for the border followed soon after, and police helicopters began hovering over the area, McAllister said.
He described the incident as “the most serious I’ve ever seen” in six years of working at Peace Portal.
Prior to the news conference, a police officer was taking photographs of each of the approximately 75 vehicles that had been stopped in the lineup behind police tape, paying particular attention to plate numbers.
The cars began to be released through the border as the news conference got underway.
Luc Portelance, president of the Canada Border Services Agency, flew to Vancouver Wednesday morning to meet with the injured officer.
CBSA also flew the officer’s family to Vancouver to be with her.
In a news release the day before, Portelance said his thoughts are with the then-unnamed officer and her family.
“I know everyone at the CBSA will be thinking of her, as well as her colleagues at Douglas and in the Pacific Region, today and in the days to come,” he said.
“This is a profound reminder of the risks that border services officers assume every day. I know that the courage and dedication of our officers are second-to-none.”
Officials say the incident marks the first time a Canadian border services officer has been shot in the line of duty.
In a statement issued Wednesday, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert described the incident as “a sobering reminder of the risks that face the CBSA every day.”
“On behalf of the government, I would like to wish BSO Lori Bowcock a full and quick recovery.”
The border remained closed in both directions as of PAN’s press deadline Wednesday afternoon.
– Dan Ferguson, Tracy Holmes & Nick Greenizan