Possible link between shooting, carjacking in Okanagan and Nanaimo shooting
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Wednesday, May 9, 2018 11:42AM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, May 10, 2018 6:26PM PDT
Mounties are probing a possible link between two violent incidents in the Okanagan Valley and Tuesday's fatal police-involved shooting at a Nanaimo ferry terminal.
RCMP issued a release late Wednesday saying they had uncovered a possible link between a shooting in Vernon and a carjacking in Penticton on May 7.
The incidents were previously thought to be unrelated, but RCMP now say the suspect description matches up in both incidents.
The Vernon shooting took place just before noon Monday near a local shopping complex, and police responded to find a lone male inside a vehicle with gunshot wounds. Mounties described the victim's injuries as life-threatening.
The alleged shooter was described as a white man with blond hair seen leaving in a 1996 grey Ford Crown Victoria.
Later that night, Penticton RCMP were called to a motel for a report of a man brandishing a gun who matched the description of the suspect in the Vernon shooting.
The man fled prior to police arriving and minutes later, Mounties in Penticton received a report of a carjacking.
The victim reported a man matching the same suspect description asked him for a ride to the hospital to see a sick family member, but once he was inside the car, he assaulted the driver and forced him from the vehicle.
The man's car was described as a bluish-grey Pontiac Vibe – the same vehicle spotted on a ferry heading from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay Ferry Terminal in Nanaimo on Tuesday.
Nanaimo RCMP were notified that the stolen vehicle was nearing the terminal and descended on it to arrest the driver.
When they surrounded his vehicle, he allegedly produced what police believed to be a firearm, prompting officers to fire their weapons at the man. He suffered serious injuries and later died.
Investigators are now working to determine whether the various incidents are connected to the same man or if others are involved.
"While we wish to advance these investigations, we must be mindful of the nexus to the ongoing Nanaimo investigation by the Independent Investigation Office of British Columbia," said RCMP Southeast District Supt. Ray Carfantan. "We will continue to support the investigative needs of our units here in the Okanagan to enhance public safety, while respecting that the IIO BC leads the investigation on Vancouver Island."
Anyone in the Okanagan Valley who spotted the 1996 Grey Ford Crown Victoria with B.C. Licence Plate DR2 58M is asked to get in touch with Vernon or Penticton RCMP.
No officers or members of the public were injured in the shooting in Nanaimo.
The IIO has assumed conduct of the investigation to see if there was any link between police actions and the man's fatal injuries. The BC Coroner's Service is also investigating the incident.