A man was killed and two women were injured in a shooting Thursday afternoon in the lobby of Smith Tower Apartments in downtown Vancouver.
The suspected shooter, identified by police as Robert E. Breck, 80, a resident of the senior living building, was taken into custody after a standoff with law enforcement that lasted nearly 2 ½ hours.
The victims have not yet been identified. However, the two who were injured were transported to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, where a hospital spokesman said both were in satisfactory condition.
Breck was booked into the Clark County Jail on suspicion of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted first-degree murder, according to the Vancouver Police Department. He will make a first appearance on the allegations Friday morning in Clark County Superior Court.
He allegedly fired shots in the building’s lobby shortly after 2 p.m. A 77-year-old man, who’s a resident and asked not to be identified, said he saw Breck enter the building through the side door. The witness entered through the same door a short time later.
When he got inside, the witness said he saw Breck standing with a handgun in the lobby and heard “boom-boom.” The witness turned and fled. He went to the dress shop next door and called 911, he said.
Police were summoned at 2:09 p.m. to 515 Washington St., where they found three victims in the lobby suffering from gunshot wounds. Breck was holed up in his apartment on the building’s 13th floor on the south side.
Armed SWAT officers swarmed the building. Teams of four officers, holding the victims’ arms and legs, carried them out the front door — one appeared to be dead. The injured victims were tended to in the building’s parking lot until paramedics arrived and transported them to the hospital.
Shortly after, witnesses to the shooting were ushered from the building by law enforcement and taken to City Hall to be interviewed.
After police identified Breck as the suspect, a crisis negotiation team started communicating with him via phone before 3 p.m. SWAT officers evacuated the residents who were able to navigate the stairs and told the rest to shelter in place. The elevators inside the 15-story tower were shut off as police worked to contain the gunman to the 13th floor, where a drone hovered outside his window.
Evacuated residents were kept warm and dry in a C-Tran bus at Sixth and Washington streets. Some residents who sheltered in place looked down from their windows on the crowd gathering below. Law enforcement cordoned off a three-block radius around Smith Tower, with police vehicles bumper to bumper on surrounding streets. Area C-Tran bus routes were detoured during the response.
Police kept the area of Fifth and Sixth streets from Main to Washington streets closed for several hours after taking Breck into custody. Following a final sweep of the building, residents were given clearance to return to their apartments.
“While we are still learning about what happened surrounding the shooting incident this afternoon in downtown Vancouver, our hearts go out to the victims and their families as they deal with this tragedy,” Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said in a written statement. “I commend our police officers, fire and EMS personnel who quickly responded to the scene. I have the utmost confidence in our officers as they work to resolve the situation.”