Photos from witnesses suggest Paul Dragan ran across the street from his bike shop to grab a coffee at the Starbucks Tuesday morning. Moments later, the 52-year-old owner of the Reckless Bike Stores chain was lying sprawled on his back in front of the coffee shop with a bullet wound in his abdomen, blood pooling on the sidewalk as stunned bystanders attempted to revive him.
Witnesses struggled to comprehend what unfolded before their eyes after a gunman fired anywhere from three to five shots outside the coffee shop. The shooter was then seen fleeing on a bike along the city’s seawall to Science World, chased by police as passersby scattered. On the grounds of the popular museum routinely crowded with preschoolers, the suspect opened fire on police, injuring one officer with flying glass when a bullet hit her cruiser, before he was brought down.
The suspected shooter and Mr. Dragan were sent to hospital for surgery.
“Quite disturbing,” Constable Brian Montague said at a news conference. “I can’t recall anything similar happening in the last 20 years. … It’s a very brazen act, no doubt about that.”
Constable Montague said the officer’s injuries are minor, though he added she’s “very shaken up.”
Stunned employees at the Kitsilano location of the Reckless Bike Stores declined to comment but confirmed Mr. Dragan was in the hospital with his wife by his side.
Mr. Dragan’s business partners describe him as a passionate cycling advocate who is well-liked and has great business sense.
Jack Becker, who co-founded a small cycling consulting firm along with Mr. Dragan, said the cyclist lived in Nova Scotia before moving to Europe in the 1970s for several years to be a bicycle racer. Since arriving in Vancouver, Mr. Dragan has sat on various municipal boards and helped to stage a global cycling conference in 2012. He has a son who is 11- or 12-years-old, said Mr. Becker.
“He was a good person to talk to to get advice,” said Mr. Becker. “I always found him easy to work with.”
Annette O’Shea, executive director of the Yaletown Business Improvement Association, has known Mr. Dragan for about eight years through his work as a member of the BIA’s tourism strategy committee.
“He is certainly popular in the neighbourhood,” said Ms. O’Shea. “Everyone knows who he is. He’s always coming up with great ideas about how we can make this place better.”
Adam Hunter was at home in a high-rise near the Davie Street Starbucks when he heard what sounded like an explosion shortly after 11 a.m. Tuesday.
“I didn’t know it was a gun,” he said. “It was so loud. I was expecting it to be a gas explosion.”
Mr. Hunter said he looked out the window and saw a man who looked like a police officer leaning across a blue car parked in front of the shop. Both of his arms were stretched over the car and he was holding a black handgun.
Mr. Hunter saw the man fire one shot before he went around the back of the car and out of Mr. Hunter’s line of sight.
Nigel Horsley, who lives on the sixth floor above the Starbucks, ran downstairs after hearing four shots. When he emerged, he saw a man he identified as Mr. Dragan lying unmoving on the ground, his skin pale and grey. He seemed to be unconscious, said Mr. Horsley.
Paramedics arrived and began treating the victim.
“They were doing CPR on him so hard I could see his stomach bumping up from the compressions,” said Mr. Hunter.
Amber Bouchard came off the SkyTrain at the station across the street from Science World when she saw 10 to 20 armed officers advancing in a line toward the domed facility with their guns drawn.
“There was lots of screaming and sirens. Next thing I know, all was calm,” said Ms. Bouchard, 30.
Melissa Canute said she was walking along the seawall near Science World and the Olympic Village when she heard gunfire in three bursts. She said she didn’t see the man go down, but she watched as stretchers arrived to take people away.
“I am scared, I can’t stop shaking,” said Ms. Canute, sitting on a bench overlooking False Creek. “At first I thought it was just a tire blown out.”
The area around Science World and the Main St. SkyTrain station was quickly cordoned off and the nearby Creekside Community Centre was put on lockdown. Children hanging out the windows from a departing school bus yelled to a reporter that they were from Chilliwack and had been locked down in the museum.
Police declined to identify the suspect, except to say he is a 61-year-old male.
Constable Montague said it was too early to talk about a motive in the shooting or whether it was targeted. However, he noted this did not appear to be gang-related.
Between Yaletown and Science World, he said there are “hundreds of witnesses” that police will have to speak with.
There have been a recent series of shootings in the Vancouver area, raising questions about violence in Canada’s third largest city. Over the past weekend, two men were shot – one fatally. In one incident, 28-year-old Mila Deakin, the daughter of the former TV series Real Housewives of Vancouver star Jody Claman, was shot in the shoulder.
Despite recent violent incidents, Constable Montague said “it was a bit of a leap” to say that violent crime is on the rise in Vancouver. “It is unfortunate that we’ve had a large number of shootings in a short period of time, but I really don’t think there’s a need for the public to really be overly concerned at this point because of these few unfortunate incidents.”
Because police discharged firearms, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C is looklng into whether the actions of officers were justified in the case.
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