A Maple Ridge woman who called police last Wednesday after spotting the van of a man wanted for murder in Burnaby is being credited for preventing more deaths.
Susanne Murphy was heading to the dike at the end of 216th Street to walk her dog Tuco when she heard a warning over the radio asking people to call 911 if they saw Angus Mitchell’s green van.
Police were hunting Mitchell after he killed two people inside a Burnaby sushi restaurant on May 27, then shot and injured his former landlord in Burnaby on May 29.
As Murphy approached the end of 216th Street, where the pavement ends, she noticed Mitchell’s distinct green mini-van parked by the side of the road. The plates on the van matched the description broadcast over the radio.
Shaking and struggling to pull her cell phone out of her pocket, Murphy stopped in the dike parking lot and called 911.
“I was kind of scared,” Murphy said at a press conference where police thanked her for making the phone call.
“I had no idea if he was in the area or if he was in the van.”
Police kept Murphy on the phone for an hour and asked her to keep other dog walkers from leaving the area, while Ridge Meadows RCMP blocked off roads and mustered the emergency response team.
More than 20 officers surrounded Mitchell, who refused to leave his car to cooperate with police.
Mitchell, 26, was shot after he opened fire on police. He died in hospital.
Murphy says she didn’t think twice about calling 911.
“I know that some people hesitate or they don’t want to get involved,” she said.
“I didn’t even hesitate. I just dialed. I knew I was doing the right thing.”
Police are now crediting Murphy and the quick actions of Ridge Meadows RCMP for stopping Mitchell’s murderous spree.
“IHIT investigators have examined evidence which clearly indicates Mitchell had plans to target six business and six individuals in total,” Insp. Kevin Hackett, with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said at a press conference Tuesday.
Mitchell’s former landlord and the woman killed in the Sushi restaurant, Chinh Diem Huynh, were the first targets on his list.
The owner of the sushi restaurant, Andy Tran, who was also killed, was not on Mitchell’s list.
Had Mitchell not been found, Hackett added, the death toll would have been higher.
IHIT found Mitchell’s hit list in his green van and revealed it included information on businesses and individuals located in seven jurisdictions throughout the Lower Mainland.
The information found included addresses, names of the people he was targeting and possible entrances and exits from each of the buildings.
“He had a plan,” said Sgt. Jen Pound, a spokesperson for IHIT.
“Had he not been stopped, we don’t know how many people would have been fatally targeted.”
Angus Mitchell’s family issued a statement through Vancouver Police earlier this week. The VPD is investigating the RCMP shooting.
Mitchell grew up in Vernon
“The family of Angus Mitchell wishes to express our extreme sorrow and heartfelt sympathies to the families of Chinh Diem Huynh and Huong Tran. Their deaths were truly senseless. We cannot begin to describe the horror we felt upon learning of Angus’s involvement in this tragedy. Our thoughts are also with Angus’s former landlord, who we hope recovers fully from his injuries.”