Lillooet Bridge River Band attack leaves 4 people still in hospital
Police found suspect had been subdued by staff at B.C. band office
CBC News, Oct 15, 2015
Four people remain in hospital following an attack at the Bridge River Band Office near Lillooet, B.C., yesterday that ended with the death of the suspect.
Two patients remain in critical condition, one is in serious condition and one is dealing with non-life-threatening injuries, according to B.C.’s Interior Health Authority.
Seven victims have already been released from hospital.
Lillooet RCMP say the man entered the band office with weapons just before 8:30 a.m. PT Wednesday and assaulted staff. Police have not confirmed any other details about the attack.
According to unconfirmed reports from members of the close-knit community who have spoken to the CBC, the man attacked one person with a hammer, and when others in the office went to help, they were also beaten.
RCMP officers who first arrived at the band office found the suspect restrained, unconscious and unresponsive, and despite performing CPR, the man died.
The coroner has not released the identity of the dead suspect.
British Columbia’s independent police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO), has been called in to investigate the suspect’s death.
Time for healing
Bridge River Band Chief Susan James said the community must now find its centre so healing can begin.
On Wednesday night, band members gathered around a fire, drumming and singing, to prepare for the coroner to remove the suspect’s body.
James said band members can’t comprehend the motive behind the attack, but are grateful because the tragedy could have been worse.
All the people injured in the incident were longtime employees of the band, she said.
Suspect dead, 11 hurt, in hammer attack at band office near Lillooet
A shocked small First Nations community near Lillooet is struggling to cope after a hammer attack at their band office left 11 people injured and the suspect dead on Wednesday.Three separate investigations are underway after the violence at the Xwísten (Bridge River) band office just before 8:30 a.m.
A local man is alleged to have entered the office and struck one staff member with a hammer. Others ran to help and were also injured, according to the RCMP and several people who spoke to The Vancouver Sun.
The suspect, whose name has not been released, was subdued by people in the office. He died shortly after RCMP arrived.
Xwísten Chief Susan James said in a statement that “four of the injured have been hospitalized, and two are in serious condition. … A number of our office staff are being stabilized and transferred to other hospitals. Our attention now will be on the healing work we need to do. This tragedy has put our community into shock.”
James said that because of the RCMP investigation, she would not comment further.
James said the community remains focused on helping the seven people now recovering at home, as well as the four who remain in hospital.
A spokeswoman with the health authority confirms one woman had surgery after being airlifted to hospital in Kamloops, while a second person was flown for treatment in Kelowna and two others have less serious injuries, but remain hospitalized.
The band has 440 members, according to its website, with just over a third of those living in Bridge River about nine kilometres northwest of Lillooet. The band office, which is in a large multi-purpose community building, remained behind police tape Wednesday afternoon.
The RCMP said B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office was called in because the suspected attacker died in custody.
“The suspect was subdued and restrained” before police arrived, RCMP Cpl. Janelle Shoihet said in a news release. “RCMP members arrested the male but were unable to transport him as he became unconscious and unresponsive. RCMP officers immediately commenced CPR.” Paramedics, who were waiting nearby, took over the CPR but were unable to revive the man.
IIO spokesman Marten Youssef said the RCMP called in his agency about 11:30 a.m.
“The focus of the IIO investigation will be on the actions or inactions of the officers,” he said. “Standard investigative activities include locating and interviewing any witnesses and collecting evidence from the scene.”
The B.C. Coroner’s office is also investigating, official Barb McLintock told the Sun. She said the suspect’s name likely won’t be released until Thursday.