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Gunman did not ‘meet criteria’ to be held, inquest hears

RCMP Insp. Tim Shields holds up photos of Angus David Mitchell during a news conference in Burnaby, B.C., Wednesday, May 30, 2012.


The man who killed two people and wounded another with a high-powered rifle did not meet criteria for involuntary psychiatric hospital admission when he was assessed by doctors in the months before the shootings, a coroner's inquest has heard.

After bringing a newly purchased rifle to a Victoria-area clinic on Feb. 7, 2012, police confronted Angus Mitchell in his home. He answered the door with his knife in his boxer shorts, according to documents read during the inquest.

Mr. Mitchell was arrested under the Mental Health Act and brought by police to the Royal Jubilee Hospital emergency room for assessment.

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Dr. Sean Henry, an emergency room doctor, met with Mr. Mitchell early the next morning. He testified Wednesday at the inquest into Mr. Mitchell's death at the hands of police.

Dr. Henry told the inquest he found the circumstances surrounding Mr. Mitchell concerning.

"He was found with a rifle, which he had carried into a doctor's office," he testified. "Secondly, he was found with a knife in his underwear. It appeared to me he had tendency towards possible violence. And possibly most alarming to me, he had written a letter to a landlord saying if he died, he wanted all his items disposed of. At 26 years of age, there are not many reasons for death other than killing himself."

After a 10-minute assessment, Dr. Henry diagnosed Mr. Mitchell as experiencing a "situational crisis," according to medical records presented at the inquest. He then signed a form involuntarily admitting Mr. Mitchell for up to 48 hours.

Dr. Brent Gould, a psychiatrist at the Royal Jubilee Hospital, received the referral and assessed Mr. Mitchell later in the day. He testified he too was concerned and wanted to probe whether Mr. Mitchell was a danger.

But Dr. Gould said Mr. Mitchell had reasonable explanations for the events preceding his arrest.

Mr. Mitchell disclosed he had a history of depression and substance abuse, but was not currently experiencing problems. Dr. Gould noted he was experiencing some paranoid thoughts and was generally distrusting of individuals. But Dr. Gould testified there were no elements of psychoses, depression or mania that would place Mr. Mitchell at risk to himself or others.

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Under the 2005 British Columbia Mental Health Act, a patient must be "suffering from a mental disorder that seriously impairs the person's ability to react appropriately to his or her environment or to associate with others."

"Mr. Mitchell did not meet the first criteria for involuntary status under the mental health act," said Dr. Gould. "I would not have been able to hold him against his own will."

Mr. Mitchell was released on Feb. 8, 2012, at 3 p.m.

On May 27, Mr. Mitchell killed a sushi restaurant owner and an employee. Two days later, he shot and injured his former landlord.

The RCMP's Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team issued a public warning on May 30. A region-wide manhunt for Mr. Mitchell ensued, and a witness tipped off police to his location.

When Mr. Mitchell fired at RCMP officers, police returned fire, killing him.

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Police later said Mr. Mitchell had a hit list naming individuals and businesses.

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