Some of the events that led up to officers discharging their sidearms in a hotel in Calgary’s beltline on Wednesday have been released by the Calgary Police Service (CPS) and the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT).
A 20-year-old woman is dead after the incident.
According to ASIRT, CPS officers responded to a call at the Nuvo Hotel on 12 Avenue S.W. at about 4 p.m. on Wednesday. Police said the woman sounded distressed, was threatening self-harm and said she had a gun.
CPS Chief Mark Neufeld said officers did not have much information before arriving at the hotel.
“As is often the case when officers respond to situations, they don’t always have a great picture as to what’s happening, so some of it ends up getting filled in when they get there,” Neufeld said.
“But one thing they did know was that there was a belief that there was a firearm involved at the scene.”
When police approached the third-floor room to speak with the person inside, a woman appeared in the doorway, an ASIRT statement said. The woman went back into the room and police said they returned to the doorway.
ASIRT said footage from body-worn cameras confirmed that the woman seemed to be armed with what appeared to be a black handgun.
Details of what happened next are being held by ASIRT pending further interviews.
Two officers discharged their service pistols shortly after the woman appeared in the doorway. The woman was struck and fell back into the room. When officers entered the room, they found the woman dead. Police also found a replica pellet pistol nearby.
On Thursday, Neufeld would not recount what happened between when the woman reappeared in the doorway and when officers discharged their weapons but did acknowledge “there were multiple shots fired, nobody else was injured.”
Neufeld said CPS officers are trained in de-escalation tactics and communication techniques, with a peaceful resolution as the goal.
“As a practical reality, the reactions of our officers will at times be dictated by the actions of the person they’re working to try and help. Our officers are well trained to deal with dynamic situations,” Neufeld said.
“In the vast majority of calls, including ones like the one yesterday, they were able to work with the person to obtain voluntary compliance, without any use of force being required as a part of their training.
“Yes, there was the tactics that were put in place to try to manage this safely (with the use of less-lethal weapons) and get this to a place through empathetic, compassionate, reassuring communication. Those things were in place and, at a point, they didn’t work any longer.”
ASIRT is still investigating Wednesday’s officer-involved shooting.
“I’m confident that the investigation will ultimately demonstrate that our officers conducted themselves appropriately, reacting in the best interest of public safety,” Neufeld said, putting his “full support” behind the officers who responded to the original call.
Neufeld said that CPS body-worn cameras helped to speed up the ASIRT investigation and release of information about his officers’ actions.
Neufeld acknowledged that there are likely family and friends mourning the death of the 20-year-old woman.
“On behalf of all of us at CPS, I extend my condolences to all of those who’ve been impacted by this incident.”
Nearby businesspeople were shocked by the incident.
“I was helping out a customer inside my shop, and we heard gunshots coming from the back, and as soon as heard gunshots, we saw 10-15 squad cars coming and didn’t stop. They just kept coming,” Aryan Hassan, owner of Exit 420, told Global News.
“Honestly, I wasn’t surprised due to it being 12th Avenue. It can be sketchy sometimes, and I’ve heard stories about this hotel before.”
Lanah Kim, manager at nearby Great Clips, said Wednesday was the first time she’s seen this sort of incident in the area.
“Scary, right?” Kim told Global News. “I’ve been here for 14 years. This is the first time I had that moment with my own eyes and very nervous and thought about people in the hotel and the customers here.
“I was very worried.”
Neufeld suggested that anyone impacted by Wednesday’s events, especially those who live or work in the area, reach out to the CPS Victim Assistance Support Team, which can be reached by phone at 403-428-8398.
— with files from Jill Croteau, Global News