The Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP General Investigative Section (GIS) has taken the lead of an investigation into a shooting near a local shopping complex Monday that has left a man fighting for his life.
Just before noon, police responded to a report of a shooting located in the 2700 block of 43rd Avenue and found a lone man in a vehicle with gunshot wounds.
He was transported by BC Ambulance Service to the nearest medical facility with life-threatening injuries.
“Preliminary information suggests this was a targeted event and police do not feel public safety is at risk,” said RCMP spokesperson Const. Kelly Brett. “Given the time of day and the location, it is fortunate no other people were injured during this incident.”
The shooting happened in a parking lot with a number of surrounding businesses and is located right across the back of W.L. Seaton Secondary School.
“The investigation is ongoing and there is no further information being released at this time,” said Brett.
RCMP could be seen after lunch investigating a couple of vehicles in the parking lot, including a small black sports car with a passenger-side door open.
A police service dog and its handler were also on hand searching for evidence.
One employee of a business off the parking lot said her husband came rushing into the store asking if they had any towels.
“He said, ‘someone in the parking lot has been shot,’” said the woman, who did not want to be identified. “I grabbed a handful, ran out there over to the car. There was another man there trying to help the guy.
“I walked over to the car, there was blood all over the ground, blood coming out of his mouth and all over his chest. I asked if I could help him with the towels. He said, ‘Don’t touch me.’ He kept saying, ‘I’m going to die, I’m going to die.’ I tried to reassure him that no, they were coming.
“The police showed up first and they had to secure the scene before the ambulance came in. There were six police cars. They were trying to keep him awake and help him until the ambulance got there. Somebody asked if he knew who shot him. He said a first name but I didn’t catch it.”
At a neighbouring business, the lone employee had been in the back of the store and heard some bangs, followed by “tons and tons of police sirens.”
“When I came to the front, I saw an ambulance attendance working on somebody, pulling the person out of a black vehicle,” said the employee. “There were a lot of RCMP and a lot of people around.”
The RCMP advised W.L. Seaton Secondary to go into lockdown mode.
“The district followed emergency protocol that included working with district staff and the RCMP,” said Seaton acting administrators Tyler Hanson and Nathan Lee in a letter sent home to parents Monday. “The lockdown was lifted approximately 30 minutes later. The RCMP quickly contained the incident and all of our students are safe.
“The lockdown happened during the lunch hour and some of our students were in the community. If your child witnessed anything or has any concerns, we have extra counselling staff that are available.”
Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP at 250-545-7171; remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477; or leave a tip online at www.nokscrimestoppers.com.
You do not have to reveal your identity to Crime Stoppers. If you provide information that leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward.