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‘It’s remarkable no one was hurt’: Vanderhoof shooting suspect identified

Over a dozen employees threw themselves on the ground to avoid being shot
Vanderhoof shooter arrest
Police arresting the suspect in the Vanderhoof shooting incident on Nov. 25.

The BC Prosecution Service has released the name of the suspect in the active shooting incident which occurred yesterday (Nov. 25) in Vanderhoof.

He has been identified as Paul Nicholas Russell and has been charged with one count of attempted murder with a firearm. 

Russell appeared in court today in Williams Lake. 

The BCRCMP says it is continuing to investigate the incident and is asking anyone with video or dashcam footage of the shooting or the events following to share with police.

At about 12:15 p.m., police responded to reports of an active shooter with a long gun targeting the RCMP Detachment in the 100 Block of Columbia Street.

The suspect fired multiple rounds at the Vanderhoof RCMP Detachment and police vehicles parked at the detachment before being arrested a short time later.

“Yesterday was nothing less than the most horrendous occurrence that can happen for police officers, our support staff, and our community. For reasons that may become clearer in the following days through the ongoing investigation, an individual opened fire on our police detachment where well over a dozen employees were working,” said Chief Superintendent Warren Brown. BC RCMP North District, District Officer.

“I am told that bullets from a rifle smashed through exterior windows striking walls, equipment, and flying past work stations where police officers and office staff sat. Terrible accounts where our employees were deafened by gun fire, could smell burning gun powder, and threw themselves on the ground to avoid being shot. An incident like this is really something that happens rarely and regardless of how well we are trained, with the serious level of threat and fluid mayhem, it is remarkable to believe no one was hurt and the suspect was arrested safely. Really the best possible outcome.”

Mounties say because this was a targeted attack on the RCMP, police do not believe there to be any threat to the community and the suspect remains in custody.

“I do want to acknowledge the overwhelming support we have received from the community of Vanderhoof. I met with the Mayor and CAO yesterday shortly after the incident and they expressed their sincere concern, appreciation, and well-being for our members and employees. As this incident was unfolding, citizens of Vanderhoof provided real-time up to date witness accounts through 911,” continued Brown.

“This included suspect and vehicle descriptions, locations and other observations that were integral pieces of information that led to the capture of the suspect. It was the first ever Police Emergency Alert in the province of BC that was broadcast. This is new to us all and the support and cooperation from the community at large was overwhelming.”

The District of Vanderhoof also praised the use of the Police Emergency Alert broadcast.

“Residents in Vanderhoof received an incredibly valuable warning about the incident through the BC Emergency Alert System. We are grateful that the alert system works and that because of the alert, residents knew to shelter in place and remained safe during the incident,” the district’s statement said. “These types of incidents are frightening and shocking to all of us. We understand these events can be challenging to deal with afterward.”

While the Vanderhoof detachment remains closed to the public as a forensic examination is conducted, there will be no disruption to the calls for service.

The BC RCMP North District General Investigation Section is now leading the investigation and is seeking the public’s assistance.

Investigators are aware that there are numerous videos of the incident and are asking anyone with dash cam or cell phone video of the shooting, or the events following it, to share it with police.

If you have any information or are able to share video please contact the Vanderhoof RCMP at 250-567-2222.