RCMP confirm one man has been shot twice and a woman shot once near the entrance to the grandstands of the Williams Lake Stampede Sunday afternoon (July 3).
Williams Lake Tribune reporter Monica Lamb-Yorski was on scene covering the rodeo at the time and said a child ran into the grandstands and shouted “there’s a shooter with a gun.”
Within seconds, the rodeo announcer told the crowd to safely evacuate into the infield and to remain calm.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Del Byron said the two victims are being treated at hospital and that one male suspect has been arrested. Police are concerned there may be a second shooter and are treating the situation as such while the investigation unfolds.
They are asking people to stay away from the area.
Witnesses to the shooting are asked to go to the RCMP detachment. The attack occurred near the end of the final rodeo performance behind the grandstands within the secured, fenced area where several vendors were set up throughout the weekend such as a lemonade stand and mini doughnut truck, popular with children.
Witnesses confirm seeing the victims on the ground, with some witnesses in the crowd crying.
The shooting occurred at roughly 3:37 p.m. Following the incident, police officers with guns were stationed above the Stampede Grounds and a massive windstorm and thunderstorm swept over the area.
Mayor Walt Cobb attended several Stampede events over the highly anticipated weekend, and volunteered every day to serve Stampede breakfasts downtown and steak dinners at the Legion.
“What a terrible way to end a great weekend,” said Cobb, who lives just above the Stampede Grounds. His own daughter and grandchildren were part of the evacuation.
“I was working in my driveway when I heard the shots. I assumed it was just firecrackers and didn’t give it much more thought.”
Cobb said a few minutes later he felt a tap on the shoulder as he was cutting the grass and it was his grandson telling him they had been evacuated from the rodeo due to a shooting.
“It’s just awful.”
Cobb noted Sunday evening he has been told by RCMP that the early stages of the investigation suggests the shooting was targetted.
This weekend was the first Williams Lake Stampede since 2019 due to the pandemic and the association had enjoyed three days of sell-out or near-sell-out crowds enjoying the 94th Annual Williams Lake Stampede pro rodeo performances from Thursday, June 30 to Saturday, July 2. Though it wasn’t a pro rodeo, Sunday’s performance was another near sell-out crowd, as families took in the Wild Cowgirl Race finals, Wild Horse Race finals and a BRC Bull Riding event.
We are told children were among the witnesses to the shooting.
Williams Lake Stampede Association president Court Smith issued a statement in the hours following the shooting.
In a social media post following the incident, Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson commended the quick actions of the Williams Lake RCMP and the Stampede Board of Directors as well as rodeo announcer Tyson Pietsch.