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Nov. 23, 2020

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Officer-involved shooting closes Fourth Plain in central Vancouver

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor, and
, Columbian Breaking News Reporter
Published:
3 Photos
Police at the scene of the fatal shooting of William Abbe on Fourth Plain Boulevard and Stapleton Road on April 28.
Police at the scene of the fatal shooting of William Abbe on Fourth Plain Boulevard and Stapleton Road on April 28. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Three Vancouver police officers shot a man Tuesday morning while responding to an assault at Fourth Plain Boulevard and Stapleton Road in central Vancouver.

A physical disturbance between two men was reported about 11:10 a.m. Arriving officers found one man lying unconscious on the ground. The other refused police commands to drop sharpened objects he was holding, according to the Vancouver Police Department.

According to emergency radio traffic monitored at The Columbian, the man was throwing pieces of sharpened pipe or construction rebar at officers just before he was shot.

Neither man’s name or medical condition was available by The Columbian’s deadline.

Carlton Ellis, 49, of Vancouver, said he was at the Sunrise Food Store grabbing a drink when a disturbance started in the parking lot, shared with two restaurants and a bakery. He believed a man was threatening a C-Tran security officer.

However, the security officer had been responding to what was initially a separate incident, according to Christine Selk, C-Tran’s communication and public affairs manager.

She said C-Tran had dispatched a security officer to a nearby Vine bus stop for a report of an intoxicated person there. The security officer approached the intoxicated man and told him to leave, Selk said. But as the security officer turned to get his phone, the male ran across Fourth Plain and into a man pushing a shopping cart. A physical fight ensued, and the security officer called police, she said.

Police arrived and confronted the man with the shopping cart, Ellis said. The man threw rocks at the responding officers and metal objects, possibly pieces of construction rebar.

Police tried to use a Taser weapon, but its prongs stuck in the man’s jacket and he brushed them off, according to Ellis. He then donned a second jacket. The suspect then went to throw a piece of rebar at an officer, Ellis said, who shot at him in response.

Ellis said he heard at least three gunshots but was unsure if they all struck the suspect.

“They gave him plenty of warning, you know? I feel bad for the guy, but what are you going to do when he’s threatening?” Ellis said.

Will Wheeler, 20, who works at a nearby business, said he stepped outside to see a man lying on the ground at the northeast corner of Stapleton and Fourth Plain. Just inside Sunrise’s parking lot, three to four officers were holding another man at gunpoint, he said.

Wheeler heard the sound of a Taser deployment, but went back inside his shop to help a customer. Moments later, he said he heard gunshots; he sprinted outside, and the officers had their weapons pointed at the second man, who was now lying on the ground.

A video circulating on Facebook, which had 2,700 shares and 2,400 comments by 4:30 p.m., captured the shooting and moments leading up to it. The footage largely corroborates Ellis’ account.

Three ambulances were called — one for the person who was shot, a second for the assault victim and a third for a bystander who may have been having a heart attack, according to emergency radio traffic.

All of the officers were uninjured. They have not yet been identified.

The Regional Independent Investigative Team, led by the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, is investigating the officer-involved shooting, according to Vancouver police.

A portion of Fourth Plain and Stapleton was closed for hours as detectives conducted their investigation. Drivers were advised to avoid the area.

According to C-Tran, The Vine was detoured and buses were unable to serve Fourth Plain between General Anderson and Andresen Road during the road closure.

The Vancouver Police Department’s West Precinct is at 2800 N.E. Stapleton Road, across the street and just north of the shooting scene.

In February, an 18-year-old man was fatally shot following an altercation with an acquaintance in the parking lot outside a small strip mall at the same intersection.

— Web Editor Amy Libby contributed to this report.

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