A male was in critical condition late Thursday after being shot by officers outside a West End convenience store, police said hours after the incident, which was videotaped by passersby.
At a hastily called news conference across the street from the shooting, at a 7-Eleven at Ellice Avenue and Arlington Street, police spokesman Const. Rob Carver said the male was taken to hospital in critical condition. He said he did not have an updated condition.
The incident comes as Winnipeg is grappling with a marked increase in violent crime. The city is on the verge of setting a record for homicides in a year, and terrifying incidents such as the liquor store robbery Wednesday night in which several people were assaulted, including a woman who was sent to hospital in critical condition. The shooting comes at a time when public safety issues are raising alarm bells across the city.
Earlier this month, Police Chief Danny Smyth said his officers have been deeply affected by what they are encountering on the streets.
Carver said a police officer was also taken to hospital and treated and released for an injury related to the shooting, but he had no details.
He said police were called to a report of an armed male inside a convenience store at 5:35 p.m.
Carver said when the first officers arrived, an officer had to "discharge his weapon."
He could not say what type of weapon the suspect was holding, but videos show the male was brandishing a weapon when he approached a police officer.
Carver said nobody inside the store was injured and he had no details about what sparked the incident or what had happened inside the store.
As for videos of the incident that have been posted on social media, Carver said people who take such videos are putting themselves at risk.
"The officers have no time to look around and move them back," he said.
"We had an officer close enough to sustain an injury. If you are close enough to officers, you could be injured.
"They’re putting themselves in a dangerous situation. I think at some point, someone is going to get hurt."
In the dramatic cellphone video, police can be seen outside the 7-Eleven store. At least one officer has his gun unholstered when a male suspect comes out of the store.
The suspect turns and begins walking towards an officer, with one hand in the air, while multiple police officers yell at him.
Seconds later, the first of several shots can be heard.
Zane Tessler, civilian director of the Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, which investigates all serious incidents involving on- and off-duty police, said the police service notified the IIU about the incident immediately.
"(The) IIU has deployed a team to the scene," Tessler said by email Thursday night. "We will have more to say (Friday)."
At the Husky gas station across the street, employee Kiran Iqbal said a frightened woman, who appeared shaken but unhurt, came into the gas bar at 5:21 p.m. and told her an armed male had been shot.
"She feels so scared because she saw something in front of her eyes, that robber," Iqbal said.
She said the woman told her the male had a large knife, and that "they shot him on the spot."
"Lots of people were watching there, standing there, and they saw everything. I counted the cars, and eight cop cars came," Iqbal said, adding she didn’t see the shooting nor hear the gunshots.
Katie May reports on courts, crime and justice for the Free Press.
Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.
Updated on Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 8:48 PM CST: Adds video
9:15 PM: Updates video
9:40 PM: Full write through
10:03 PM: Updates video
10:16 PM: Updates suspect's condition
November 22, 2019 at 11:58 AM: Updates references to 'male'