Edmonton police have released more information about Thursday’s fatal shooting of two of their officers by a 16-year-old boy, but they say they are still investigating where the teen got the gun and whether he was also responsible for an unsolved shooting at a Pizza Hut restaurant across the street days earlier.
Police say the teen had been the subject of at least one mental-health call in the past, and did not have a criminal record.
“We understand that yesterday’s events have deep and far-reaching effects on the citizens of Edmonton. We’re still very much in the early stages of our investigation,” Deputy Chief Devin Laforce told a news conference on Friday afternoon.
He said constables Brett Ryan and Travis Jordan arrived at a west Edmonton apartment building shortly before 1 a.m. on Thursday. They had been dispatched in response to a call about a woman having trouble with her 16-year-old son.
The 55-year-old woman met the two constables outside, Deputy Chief Laforce said, and they went with her to the family’s suite, where the officers were shot outside the door and “immediately incapacitated.” They were wearing body armour at the time.
“It has since been confirmed that neither officer discharged their firearm, and it is apparent that they had no opportunity to respond to the threat that faced them,” Deputy Chief Laforce said.
He said a struggle ensued between the woman and her son for the firearm, and the teen shot her, then killed himself. The young man’s father, who was in another room, was not injured. Police have not released the names of any of the family members.
One of the injured officers was taken to hospital in a police car. The other, and the teen’s mother, were taken by ambulance. At a news conference on Thursday, police Chief Dale McFee said other officers worked valiantly to save their colleagues’ lives, but the men were both pronounced dead at hospital. Constable Jordan was 35 years old, and Constable Ryan was 30.
Deputy Chief Laforce said the teen’s mother remains unresponsive and in serious condition, and that his father has been co-operating with police.
“It’s certainly known across law enforcement all across the country, responding to domestic violence and family fights are one of the most dangerous responses that our police members do,” he said. “And just because there’s so many variables and dynamics that occur in that situation, you just never know.”
Deputy Chief Laforce and Superintendent Shane Perka said the young man was known to police, but that his interactions with them had all been “non-criminal in nature.” They said officers had responded to the apartment once before on a mental-health call, but that there was no indication there were firearms in the home or that there was anything dangerous or high-risk about the situation.
“There was nothing that flagged this that would require any extra services,” Deputy Chief Laforce said. “Even the call itself was a non-violent domestic dispute, where a mother’s having difficulty with a 16-year-old son.”
He said investigators are looking into a possible connection with an unsolved and seemingly random shooting that happened early on Sunday morning. In that case, a man with a gun walked into a Pizza Hut at about 12:25 a.m., shot a 55-year-old man working there and fled.
The victim in that case had life-threatening injuries, and police had released a video image of the shooter and asked for the public’s help identifying him. The Pizza Hut is across the street from the apartment where the officers were killed.
“Certainly we’re live to that, it’s certainly being investigated,” Deputy Chief Laforce said. “But unfortunately, we still don’t know.”
He said police are considering whether the teen’s name can be released after an autopsy is performed next week. Because the youth died in the presence of police, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is also involved in the investigation.
Deputy Chief Laforce said police are not yet releasing information about what kind of gun was used, or about how the teen obtained it.
Details about public memorial arrangements for the two officers will be released at a later date.