An Abbotsford Police officer died in the line of duty today, Police Chief Bob Rich confirmed at a press conference this afternoon.
“The officer who gave his life today is a hero. He was protecting his community. He will always be my hero,” Rich said.
The Abbotsford Police Department (APD) member was not named at the media gathering, which was held in response to the chaotic series of events that took place earlier today.
Rich said police received a call just after 11:30 a.m. to report a possible stolen vehicle in the parking lot of a strip mall in the 3200 block of Mt. Lehman Road, north of Highstreet Shopping Centre.
The caller blocked in the vehicle, while waiting for police to arrive.
Rich said the suspect then got out of the car and began shooting at the caller and others with a shotgun.
APD officers arrived and tried to arrest the suspect. Gunshots were exchanged, and an officer was shot, Rich said.
That member was transported to hospital with “very serious injuries.”
The suspect then fled in the stolen vehicle and was apprehended by APD officers in the area of Mt. Lehman Road and South Fraser Way.
Rich said the man – in his 60s and from Alberta – was transported to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Shortly after, the injured officer was pronounced dead in hospital.
Rich said he met with the officer’s spouse this afternoon and delivered the devastating news.
He said the investigation is now in the hands of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. The Independent Investigation Office has also been deployed.
“This is a continuing investigation obviously. There are many questions still to be answered. Our priority is going to be in supporting the family and each other,” he said.
Rich praised all the officers involved for their response in “heroically trying to save the life” of the injured officer, in immediately taking control of the scene, and in protecting the public from the shooter.
“Our officers’ actions today, all of them, were absolutely heroic … Our members did their job,” he said.
No further comments were provided by police at the end of Rich’s statement.
The shooter stole a black Ford Mustang from MSA Ford in the Abbotsford Auto Mall on Saturday, according to the dealer’s fleet manager.
George MacDonald said a man asked to test drive the car and when he was given the keys, he jumped in and drove away, without waiting for the salesperson to get in.
An hour later, MacDonald said, employees called the police and reported it stolen.
Then on Monday, MacDonald said an employee spotted what they thought was the same Mustang in the parking lot of a nearby strip mall on Mt. Lehman road. He said they could see the remnants of the of their dealership’s stickers that had been mostly scraped off the windows and it now had Alberta license plates.
MacDonald said he brought a spare key for the stolen Mustang and it unlocked it. MacDonald left the scene but two employees stayed and blocked the Mustang in to prevent it from beig driven away.
About 20 minutes after the car was first spotted on Monday, the alleged thief and shooter came out, took a gun from the trunk and began shooting, MacDonald said.
MacDonald had left only five minutes before the shooting began, but his two employers were in the line of fire, he said.
On Tuesday morning, he said he wasn’t sure how well they’re recovering.
“I did 20 years in the military and I know I’m not doing too well right now, but I’m doing what I can.”
A visibly shaken, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said Monday that he received word of the officer’s death just before the commencement of the afternoon’s council meeting.
“Our hearts are all heavy and sad that this has happened in our community,” he said. “I just want to convey our condolences to the family of the officer.”
“I’m still in shock that this actually happened in our city but it did … We lost an officer in the line of duty and it’s a sad day for the family, for this community that this happened, that someone lost his life protecting our citizens.”