An innocent man died following a shooting involving Edmonton police Wednesday evening that also left an armed robbery suspect dead.
Edmonton Police Chief Dale McFee said officers were called around 6:25 p.m. to the area of 113 Street and 104 Avenue for a liquor store robbery involving a gun.
Before police arrived, McFee said the male suspect left the area on foot. He was located around 7 p.m. in the area of 105 Street and 107 Avenue. When the suspect saw police, McFee said he fled again.
Shortly after, a confrontation occurred and police discharged their firearms, McFee said. The male suspect was “fatally wounded,” McFee said.
During the confrontation, McFee said a second man — who was inside a nearby apartment suite and not involved in the incident — was struck. This man was rushed to hospital by paramedics where he died of his injuries, McFee said.
“This is not easy news to share,” McFee said in a news conference Thursday morning.
“It’s difficult for all, it’s tragic, especially in something like this where an innocent person not involved in this has lost a life. That’s not anything anybody’s ever signed up for and those are things that obviously, we’re going to be looking for the answers of what happened and how it happened.
“The EPS and me personally want to extend our deepest condolences to those who are grieving today… we’ve got grieving people here right now all the way around.”
The innocent man who was killed was one of the building’s resident managers, according to the property management company.
“Our team has just experienced the saddest day in our company history,” Robert McLeod, president of McLeod Realty and Management, said in a statement.
McLeod said the man recently started working with his firm, and was kind, caring and well-liked by his coworkers.
“Last evening, one of our resident managers was accidentally killed in an unbelievable incident,” McLeod said. “We were excited to be part of his new career and support those efforts. Our team is devastated. Our condolences go out to his family and friends. Today we lost a valued colleague and friend.”
The man’s name has not been released.
On Thursday morning, the Metro on 105 apartment building at 10724 – 105 St. remained surrounded by police tape. What appears to be a bullet hole could be seen in the window of a ground-floor suite.
A woman who lives in a building across the street, whose name Global News has agreed not to publish, said she was in her second-floor apartment suite Wednesday night and watched the situation unfold.
“I’ve never seen anything like that in my life,” she said. “It’s so unreal. It was traumatizing, it was terrible, it was sickening.”
The woman, who remained shaken and emotional about the situation late Thursday morning, said she heard between 10 and 12 shots fired.
She said she also heard a scream coming from the building across the street, and watched several officers run into the apartment. She said she saw a person being taken out of the building on a stretcher.
“I’m still shaking from it,” she said. “This isn’t the best neighbourhood… But I never expected to see something like that.”
Our Global News crew on scene saw what appeared to be at least five bullet holes in the apartment building.
McFee couldn’t say whether the suspect fired any shots, but said a weapon was located at the scene. He also couldn’t say how many shots were fired.
McFee said it’s too early to say exactly how the man inside the apartment was struck. He said the apartment building was very close to the scene in the area of 105 Street and 107 Avenue.
“It was in an apartment. That is an investigative piece that we don’t know the answer to how that went through. There’s a number of things that could have happened. Another individual was shot. I can’t speculate to what that was and how that went through, but those are answers that we will absolutely be looking forward to getting from ASIRT,” McFee said.
“There’s so many different things that could have happened — going through an individual into a building, missed into a building. I don’t think it’s fair to put that speculation right now.”
The police chief said there’s no indication that any other suites in the apartment were struck.
The officers involved in the incident have been offered support through the EPS employee and family assistance program as well as peer support. McFee said the officers have been removed from duty to deal with their mental health and well-being.
As the investigation unfolds over the next few weeks, McFee said the members will not be on active duty.
McFee said no EPS members were physically injured during the shooting.
McFee said the EPS is fully cooperating with the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which has been called in to investigate.
‘Desperate need of transparency,’ says justice studies professor
Doug King is a professor in Justice Studies at Mount Royal University. He said situations like this are rare in Canada, and called the incident a tragedy.
“What an unfortunate situation for the family of the individual — the innocent bystander — who was killed; for Edmonton themselves — this will put Edmontonians into a bit of wonder what’s happened here; for the police,” he said.
“It’s such a rare occurrence, particularly in Canada, that it is quite frankly shocking.”
King said now is not the time to speculate about what happened. He said Edmonton police and the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team have a responsibility to find out what happened as quickly as possible, and to be transparent with the information.
“Find out what was happening and prioritize getting this out into the public domain in terms of what actually happened,” he explained. “Because of this age of social media, I suspect right now there are all sorts of speculations that are taking place on social media that are unfounded and hasn’t actually been determined yet what happened.
“If the individual — innocent bystander — died by way of a firearm discharged by the suspect that was eventually killed at the scene, that needs to be clarified really quickly. If this individual passed away by nature of a stray police bullet, we need to know that right away.
“The Edmonton situation is in desperate need of transparency and quick resolution, and ASIRT will need to put resources on it.”
King said that police are trained for situations like this, which includes determining what might happen if they fire their gun and miss.
“For example, if the firearm was discharged pointing towards the suspect who was standing in front of an apartment building, there would have had to be some really compelling reasons why police would discharge their firearm.”
ASIRT is now investigating. ASIRT is called upon to investigate serious and sensitive matters involving police in Alberta.
Global News has reached to ASIRT for comment on the incident.
With files from Morgan Black, Global News.