3 dead in Kamloops Canada hostage-taking

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by SilvorX, Oct 16, 2002.

  1. SilvorX macrumors 68000


    May 24, 2002
    'Toba, Canada
    A hostage-taking at a provincial government office in Kamloops BC, Canada, ended Tuesday with three people dead about four hours after a 56-year-old armed man entered the office.

    Police would not confirm that the hostage-taker, a government employee who had been laid off Tuesday morning, was one of the dead.

    But Kamloops RCMP Constable Mike Pears told a news conference late Tuesday that police are not seeking any suspects in the case.

    Pears said police received reports at 2:39 p.m. Tuesday that shots had been fired in the ministry of environment building.

    When they went to the site, they learned that a "male who had received his layoff notice earlier today attended the office, was very upset, and a number of gunshots were heard by office staff.

    "At least a dozen staff members fled the building to security and five people were left inside the building."

    Pears said police made numerous attempts to contact the male suspect inside, but contact was never made.

    When an emergency-response team went into the building at about 6:30 p.m., they found three people dead. Two other people were escorted safely outside.

    Pears defended the emergency team's decision not to enter until 6:30 p.m. "We have got to ensure everyone's safety. We made every effort to contact the individual in the building and it was not successful."

    Just before the news conference, about a dozen witnesses -- looking traumatized and some in tears -- left the police station. They refused to speak to the media.

    Pears said the case is now a homicide investigation, with 14 serious crime unit and forensic identification officers involved.

    "This investigation is in its initial stages and is quite active. It will take some time for the investigators to piece together all of the information needed to obtain a clear picture of what occurred at the ministry of environment building today."

    Pears said that as part of the investigation, a Kamloops residence was searched with the consent of the residents.

    No names of victims were released pending notification of next of kin.

    Earlier Tuesday, a provincial government spokesman said the man who lost his job had been fired for cause, but later said it was not clear why he was fired.

    In Victoria, Solicitor-General Rich Coleman said: "I do know that this is not a result of workforce adjustments or layoffs."

    Coleman said the man had not gone to the part of the building where most of the people were. Instead, he went to a boardroom where a supervisor from out of town had fired him earlier.

    Earlier, before police moved in, Stu Cartwright, a federal fisheries department employee in an office across the street from the hostage-taking, said a counsellor from Vancouver was brought in to help deal with a man being told he was losing his job.

    The counsellor fled the parks ministry office to the fisheries building, he said.

    Cartwright said the counsellor told him a man had a small handgun.

    "There were gunshots in the building," he said. "It sounded like the shots were up into the ceiling and debris was falling down."

    Marni Gillis, an environmental chemist with the city of Kamloops, said she had worked with the man she believed was the disgruntled employee.

    "I wouldn't have seen it coming," she said. She said she didn't know him well directly, but she knew his colleagues and they never mentioned anything unusual about him.

    She said he was with the water, land and air protection ministry, which used to be part of the environment ministry.

    Bob Grace, a biologist in the ministry, said he saw the laid-off worker before Thanksgiving and he seemed fine, "as far as I know. But obviously not this afternoon."

    Gillis said she is deeply concerned about the staff in the department because they were so dedicated and worked so closely with Kamloops city environmental staff. They would routinely show up at city environmental open houses, she said. "We would go out and square dance and plant trees together."

    She said she is shocked at the day's events. "It's got to be a joke, it can't be happening.

    "They're a really great staff who work up there. They are a very intelligent, well-trained staff. It's just horrific."

    One of the people trapped inside the government office was Gail Lesowski, her nephew Cody Egolf said.

    Egolf said he had to pick up Lesowski's son at a day care after police called to tell them she was inside the building.

    Egolf said one of Lesowski's responsibilities was to escort employees down a hall to an office where another government official would tell them they were being dismissed.

    "She was joking the other day about wearing the Grim Reaper costume, but I'm kind of glad she didn't now."
    the story...

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