Friends have identified the man killed in a police-involved shooting in Lytton last week as longtime homeless advocate Barry Shantz.
Shantz was killed following a six-hour standoff with police at his home in the 1000-block of Mcintyre Road on Jan. 13. The Independent Investigations Office is investigating the incident.
Ward Draper, a long-time friend of Shantz’ and executive director of the 5 and 2 Ministries, said the fatal shooting was extremely upsetting.
He said Shantz struggled with mental health issues, and was also well-known to the RCMP.
“I really felt the RCMP did not handle it well, but the investigation will reveal more details and confirm if my feelings are justified or not,” he said.
“I’m wondering was there mental health workers or officers involved? This could have been resolved with that kind of component.”
According to police, officers were called to the home around 8 a.m. RCMP said two people were in the residence at the time, and officers heard gunfire from within not long after arriving.
RCMP said the two people were evacuated from the home while negotiators spoke to the man inside. Shortly after 2 p.m., the man was shot dead after what police described as an “interaction.”
Kamloops This Week reports Shantz had called 911 the day of his death asking to be shot by the RCMP.
The report cites an RCMP affidavit stating that Shantz had fired a shot from his shotgun when officers initially arrived, and that he exited the home again at 2:05 p.m. with the shotgun, and was shot.
IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald would not confirm the victim’s identity or any details about the specific investigation.
But he said the organization always looks at mental health as an aspect of its work.
“I can say that in general and any case such as this, we certainly will always consider what role, if any, mental health issues may have played in that situation and what the impacts, if any, that may or should depend on the police action,” said MacDonald.
“At the end of the day our job is to determine whether or not these actions under the criminal code were justified in law, and all of the circumstances can play a role in those determinations.”
Draper acknowledged that Shantz could be aggressive, saying he was known to “fly off the handle,” but that he always calmed down in the end.
He said his friend leaves behind an important legacy, having been deeply involved in the fight to allow homeless people to camp in parks overnight when no shelter was available.
That fight culminated in a win at the B.C. Supreme Court against the City of Abbotsford affirming that right, and set the stage for changes in communities around the province.
Shantz, a co-founder of the B.C.-Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors, was also an advocate for harm reduction, drug users and Indigenous issues, Draper said.
He said he’s anxious to see the results of the IIO investigation.
“What I’m hoping is that they exercised every possible option before they killed my friend,” said Draper.