Nanaimo RCMP are investigating at the scene of an alleged shooting at B.C. Ferries’ Departure Bay terminal. CHRIS BUSH/The News Bulletin

UPDATE: Man shot and killed during attempted arrest at Vancouver Island ferry terminal

Independent Investigations Office of B.C. takes over file after incident at Departure Bay in Nanaimo

A man is dead after being shot during an attempted arrest at Nanaimo’s Departure Bay ferry terminal this morning.

Chief Supt. Sean Sullivan, RCMP Island District commander, said the Island District Emergency Response Team and Nanaimo RCMP were at the location in relation to a “violent car-jacking incident” elsewhere in B.C.

“The vehicle was stopped by police and a takedown was initiated,” said Sullivan. “It resulted in what police believed was an individual with a firearm and shots were fired, resulting in the serious injuries to the suspect which later resulted in his death.

No one else was injured in the incident.

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. has about 10 people looking into the incident right now, said Ron MacDonald, the IIO’s chief civilian director.

“We’ll be looking into all the circumstances surrounding the interaction that led to the shots being fired,” he said at a press conference in Surrey this afternoon. “We will assess what the police were doing, what the individual was doing.”

He said the IIO is engaged in a forensics investigation and will speak with witnesses, look for possible video evidence and review radio traffic.

MacDonald said the IIO hasn’t yet determined if there was an exchange of gunfire.

“The RCMP reported that members saw what they believed to be a weapon as he exited the vehicle. That obviously is a very important part of our investigation as well.”

He added that leading up to the takedown attempt, there was communication with ferry staff to ensure that the suspect vehicle was among the last to disembark the vessel.

A witness told the News Bulletin he heard gunfire and saw a cluster of police vehicles at the terminal as the Queen of Cowichan was unloading in advance of a scheduled 10:40 a.m. sailing. Frank Leonard, chairman of the B.C. Agricultural Land Commission, said he was travelling from Campbell River to Richmond on business when the incident happened a little after 10:15 a.m.

“I heard a boom like a backfire of a truck and a couple of seconds [later] I heard bang, bang, bang, that sounded like gunfire,” he said.

He saw a cluster of police vehicles and saw B.C. Ambulance Service arrive on scene.

“An announcement came on to get in your car because there’d been a police incident,” Leonard said, adding that passengers were calm and the scene was very quiet.

About 20 minutes later, disembarking resumed via the departures lanes, and the Queen of Cowichan sailed less than half an hour behind schedule.

Andy Watson, B.C. Coroners Service spokesman, would not confirm details about fatalities or injuries other than to say the Coroners Service had been called to investigate.

“Yes, we have been called. We are early in our investigation,” Watson said, deferring further comment to the IIO.

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The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. confirmed via social media that “investigators are being deployed to Nanaimo for a police-related incident.”

Sgt. Jon Stuart, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said all comment about the incident would come from RCMP’s E Division headquarters on the Lower Mainland.

“The IIO will be attending later, so at this point we’re not going to be releasing any further information about what happened,” he said.

Stuart would not confirm any details about injuries or fatalities or even if police were involved in the shooting.

Deborah Marshall, B.C. Ferries spokeswoman, confirmed there was a police incident and ferry traffic will be affected.

“We are continuing to operate in and out of our Departure Bay terminal,” Marshall told the News Bulletin. “The ships will be running a bit behind schedule though because we’re using the vehicle booths to discharge traffic. Right now the exit lanes are closed, so it’s a bit of a re-route for our customers and that should carry on for at least a couple of hours probably.”

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