Police kill courthouse gunman seconds after he shot and wounded officer
Friday, Mar 28, 2014 03:15 pm
BRAMPTON, Ont. - A man wearing a long trench coat sparked pandemonium Friday when he walked into a busy multi-storey courthouse, pulled out a gun and shot and wounded a police officer before being shot dead by the officer's colleagues.
The late morning incident in the lobby where security screens visitors sent unnerved people scrambling for cover.
"I didn't believe that it was real, especially after the first shot. I thought it was a bottle that had popped," said Alex Anderson, who was in the first-floor hallway where the shooting took place.
"Then a series of shots that just went two, three, four, five. In that process, people were running. Everyone was scattering to the nearest courtroom that they can just get into."
The wounded officer, Const. Mike Klarenbeek, was in stable condition with his family at his side after being rushed to a trauma centre in nearby Toronto, police said.
Police did not name the gunman but said he was from Brampton.
A man named Humza, who didn't want to provide his last name, said he had gone through courthouse security seconds before the shooting. The attacker, he said, was just behind him in line.
"Pop right there, two, three shots. I just seen the guy shooting the cop and the cop falling on the floor," he said.
"The cops were all running."
Within moments, the Ontario Superior Court courthouse was locked down, trapping hundreds of people inside. Dozens of officers in cruisers along with ambulances rushed to the scene.
As two helicopters clattered overhead, police taped off the entire outer perimeter of the large complex and parking lot, only allowing first responders through.
Klarenbeek, a 30-year police veteran described as a family man, had been providing security at the courthouse when he was hit by a bullet, police said.
"We're a little upset right now," one police officer told The Canadian Press, describing his wounded colleague as a friend.
The encounter shocked many in the courthouse.
Saadia Bokhari, a lawyer who was in the first-floor cafeteria, recalled a woman rushing into the room screaming about someone with a gun.
"I thought 'I'm going to die today'," Bokhari said. "I didn't hear the gunshot, I just saw the dead body."
Anderson, 22, said he saw what appeared to be a body bag near the building's entrance. He also said he heard a distraught woman describe on her cellphone how the shooter — who had been right in front of her — reached into his trench coat and fired a shot.
Mustafa Jaffer, who was on the fourth floor of the building, said the atmosphere inside the courthouse was tense.
"Everyone was panicking," the paralegal said.
Jaffer said he saw someone carried from the courthouse to an ambulance. A gun in a sealed, green evidence bag was on one of the dozens of cruisers at the scene, he said.
Lawyer Michael Moon, who was on the second floor, said tactical police units with dogs searched every room after the shooting.
"They were suspicious of perhaps another party being in the courthouse," he said.
The Special Investigations Unit, the provincial agency that investigates injuries or deaths involving police, said the gunman was shot by police officers and pronounced dead at the scene.
The SIU said it had assigned 15 investigators and three forensic investigators to probe the incident.
Yasir Naqvi, the provincial minister of community safety, praised the province's first responders and said in a statement he was "deeply troubled" by the shooting.
"My thoughts are with Const. Mike Klarenbeek during this difficult time," Naqvi said.
— With files from Diana Mehta in Toronto.