One suspect is in police custody, an innocent family is still in shock and the community is searching for answers following yet another residential shooting in Williams Lake.
The latest incident occurred shortly after 4 a.m. Monday when a suspect fired multiple rounds into a home on Western Avenue.
The house, located at 910 Western Avenue, was formerly frequented by suspected gang member Indi Johnny, who was killed in a shooting on Second Avenue last month.
The shots Monday went through the bedroom and living room windows of the home, where a young family had just moved in three weeks prior, unaware of the location’s history.
“We don’t know anything and had nothing to do with any of this,” the family said Tuesday.
“We just moved into the wrong house.”
The family said they feel lucky to be alive and are in the process of moving from the house.
“We wouldn’t be able to sleep here again, it’s too scary. We want to move away from this and never look back.”
The family said they called 9-1-1 and hid in the bathroom while waiting for the police to arrive once they realized what was happening.
Williams Lake RCMP Insp. Milo MacDonald credited the actions of general duty members with the arrest of the lone suspect and seizure of a firearm and ammunition.
Due to the volatility of the unfolding situation, however, which included other shots being fired while police were on scene, all schools in the city were closed and in lockdown mode before students and staff arrived Monday as a safety precaution.
The area of particular concern included Thompson Rivers University, Columneetza, Nesika and Cataline schools.
The residential advisory was lifted by 10 a.m. after an RCMP search of the area was deemed safe by members of the Williams Lake RCMP with the assistance of the Emergency Response Team, the police dog service and RCMP helicopter services.
TRU reopened late Monday morning while the school district kept elementary and secondary schools closed for the remainder of the day.
“Whenever we have situations such as this we are going to do whatever we need to in order to ensure the public is safe,” MacDonald said of the decision to close schools and ask residents to stay in their homes.
“We understand this is a big deal and it is very disturbing and emotional for the community and we appreciate everyone’s assistance and patience through it all. Having the public respect the need to stay away from the area so we could do our work and all the 9-1-1 calls we received from residents were instrumental in the arrest of the suspect.”
MacDonald reiterated the family in the targeted home were innocent victims in this case, and said the Williams Lake RCMP are dedicated to ending the escalating violent crime that has gripped the city.
“We aren’t just going to focus on what happened, but why it happened,” MacDonald said, noting he believes success will come through a combination of education, prevention, awareness and enforcement to yield more long-term results.
In the short-term, MacDonald said he will be utilizing members of the uniformed gang task force, Combined Special Forces Enforcement Unit (CSFEU), who will be arriving in the city this week to conduct overt operations targeting prolific offenders, although Monday’s suspect was not considered a prolific offender.
“They are the people who are committing much of the crime. If we have the resources to focus on that group they will either stop committing crime or be arrested. Either of these outcomes would result in a reduction in crime.”
Mayor Walt Cobb and MP Todd Doherty both expressed their frustration with the city’s ongoing problem with violent crime.