Monday’s tragic shooting on Canmore’s Railway Avenue has opened so many cans of worms it’s difficult to decide where to begin as far as editorial comment.
Death, the media stance and professionalism, policing, investigation results, replica weapons…
First, the fact that a crime spree ended up with a man dead on a snowy road in a residential/retail area is a tragedy of the highest order. No question.
However, once a person has decided to pick up a weapon to threaten others in a series of armed robberies, it’s difficult to foresee any positive outcome of the actions. In the end, a prison term could have been considered positive. The fatal outcome is not surprising.
At this point, we would urge our readers to take into account that, while we now know the robber’s weapon of choice was a replica handgun, during the daylight armed robberies and the shooting incident itself, for all intents and purposes, the handgun was deadly. The RCMP had no choice but to treat it as such and, for the unfortunates working in the armed robbery locations, a very real, very frightening weapon was brandished.
Public opinion should not be swayed by what we know, but we do hope the victims can take some solace now, after the fact, that the weapon was not real. In the end, the RCMP members had to make a split-second decision in using deadly force.
Then there is the whole issue of trauma which will result from the event. RCMP members involved in the shooting may suffer post-traumatic stress symptoms for the rest of their lives; as may the the civilian victims of the armed robberies.
RMO would like to offer our best wishes to all those emotionally involved in the worst possible way in the armed robberies and final deadly conclusion.
We also offer our condolences to the family of the deceased, who will suffer emotional trauma of their own, and to members of the community at large who may well feel Canmore is no longer the same small town it once was.
The community of Canmore, after all, witnessed a level of violence on its streets that is unprecedented in its history. Employees and employers were no doubt on edge wondering what store would be next, or if the suspect would escalate his crime beyond robbery.
Ironically, Monday’s Canmore shooting took place on the same day the Mayerthorpe Inquiry began – a public examination of the death of four Mounties almost five years ago.
The members were gunned down by James Roszko, who was intent on killing policemen and we’d be surprised if that incident wasn’t on the mind of our local members during the armed robbery situation.
The knowledge that the hangun was a replica Smith & Wesson, which is capable of firing BBs with associated noise, raises the issue of whether anyone actually needs such a weapon and whether they should be manufactured and sold. While a replica may be designed as a benign showpiece, clearly the authenticy of the replication is cause for concern.
Victims of an armed robber who is waving it in their faces would be hard pressed to determine whether a replica is real or not, and police, from a distance, would see the weapon as real and take accordingly appropriate action.
At this time, one extremely critical piece of information is missing, of course. Was the replica weapon fired first? In these situations, there is a protocol and process of investigation. It is a process which takes time and one from which information will eventually, but slowly, be released.
Again, RMO would caution readers to not jump to conclusions until all the findings are in.
Regional media is all over this incident because it is headline-grabbing and sensational. But getting it right and getting it first are not the same. Some media reports had the Scotiabank being robbed at the time of the shooting.
In fact, on a professional level, we would like to point out that, in the frenzy of “big” TV media madly scrambling to have what everybody else has, some of the images you may have seen on TV broadcasts as being courtesy Rocky Mountain Outlook were, in fact, used without our authorization (Global was the sole authorized TV user).
Rather than getting their own news teams and camera crews on site in Canmore, a couple of TV outlets decided it would be easier to lift RMO website images. They are claiming using our work is in the public interest. That is being looked into on our front.
The RMO news team, though, was on scene at the time and in future we will strive to give you all the details and facts we can as they are made available to us.
Finally, both the armed robberies and the shooting incident should spark some concern over the idea of policing Banff with fewer RCMP members in future.
Generally, Banff is a busier locale for RCMP work – and often, it is much, much busier.