Shootout at Science World: Man gunned down in Yaletown, officer wounded as police chase suspect
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The owner of a popular Yaletown bike shop is fighting for his life after he was gunned down in broad daylight Tuesday, prompting police to chase the suspect along the seawall to Science World where he was shot in a gunfight.
The 52-year-old victim was in stable but critical condition recovering from gunshot wounds after undergoing surgery on Tuesday afternoon, according to police.
The suspect, 61, underwent surgery for serious injuries and remains in hospital under police guard, police said.
A plainclothes female police officer also sustained minor injuries from glass when a gunshot shattered the windows of a police car, police said.
At least 50 children were locked down inside Science World during the incident. Visitors at the popular attraction were told to lie flat on the floor, while children inside were quickly taken to watch a movie as police secured the scene.
The shooting unfolded around 11 a.m. when police, who happened to be nearby, responded to reports of shots fired outside the coffee shop on Davie Street near Marinaside Crescent. When officers arrived, they challenged the alleged shooter and exchanged several shots with the suspect.
Witnesses identified the victim as Paul Dragan, owner of Reckless the Bike Store at 110 Davie St., located across the street from the Starbucks. Dragan was outside the coffee shop when he was approached and shot, according to police.
Two employees of Reckless, both visibly shaken, confirmed Dragan was shot but said they could not comment further.
“I can’t talk too much. We’re very sad,” said an employee named Andrew, who would only give his first name.
Dozens of passersby and residents of the posh downtown neighbourhood gathered at the scene, sharing their version of events and consoling each other as investigators canvassed the area gathering evidence and witness statements.
Resident Adam Hunter, who lives in a nearby condo building on Davie Street, said he happened to be working on his balcony when he heard what sounded like a gas explosion. He quickly realized it was gunfire when two more shots rang out.
“I had no idea. It’s not like the movies,” he said, wrapping his arms around his body as he trembled from the shock.
When he peered over the balcony, Hunter said he saw the alleged shooter, a man with a pistol who was taking cover behind a dark blue Ford Fusion sedan parked in front of the Starbucks. The man’s stance reminded him of a policeman, he said.
“I saw a guy leaning across the roof of the car with a big black hand gun,” said Hunter. “He took one shot while I was watching.”
When Hunter went downstairs to the sidewalk, he said paramedics were performing CPR on Dragan.
“It didn’t look good,” Hunter said. “They got him into the ambulance but the ambulance didn’t move. That’s not a good sign.”
Towels soaked in blood were piled up on the sidewalk outside the Starbucks entrance as police gathered evidence. A few metres away, broken glass covered the walkway where the bullets appeared to have shattered the lobby windows of a condo building on the corner.
Duke Stevenson, who lives in the same building as Hunter, said he was walking toward the foot of Davie Street when he heard eight loud gunshots.
When he rounded the corner, he saw people ducking as the male suspect, who he described as wearing a button-down shirt and dress pants, fled towards the seawall.
He then saw Dragan on the ground with “a big hole in his back.”
“I’m pretty stunned. This never happens in Yaletown,” he said. “Everybody knows Paul. I see him everyday.”
As police pursued the alleged shooter, who fled the scene in Yaletown on bike and by foot, toward Science World, Amber Bouchard watched the standoff unfold from the base of Main Street-Science World SkyTrain station.
The suspect was running on the north side of Science World when police pushed pedestrians back and formed a line to stop him from going into traffic, she said.
“I wouldn’t even say he was running, it was more like he was in a daze,” she said. “I would say maybe 20 cops formed a line, pushed him into a corner and he started shooting at the cops, then the cops shot back.”
She couldn’t see the actual gunfight, which happened on the seawall behind Science World, but heard at least five shots. The suspect was then taken away in an ambulance.
Lucas De Haro’s wife, 5-month-old infant and 18-month-old baby were trapped inside Science World for more than two hours after the standoff.
“She told me was about to leave the museum… some seconds afterward, she saw policemen shooting,” De Haro said, texting his wife as he waited for them to get the green light to exit the building.
“They were told to keep calm and lay down on the floor,” he said. “They are OK.”
Staff played a movie about the Pacific Ocean to keep the kids occupied, he said.
A busload of elementary school children from Chilliwack smiled and waved enthusiastically at the cameramen when they were let out hours later.
“It was scary,” shouted a young girl, who said they were told to keep away from windows.
It was a more harrowing experience, however, for a small group of children who witnessed the shooting. They were taken to the police station and are being offered counselling, Vancouver police spokesman Const. Brian Montague said to reporters at the scene near Science World.
“The most important thing here is that nobody in Science World was injured,” he said. “None of the kids, none of the staff, none of the adults.”
Investigators with the Independent Investigations Office were also deployed to the scene Tuesday afternoon. The independent police review agency is responsible for reviewing police incidents involving fatalities or serious injury.
Montague said he would not identify the victim and suspect, or divulge if they knew each other or were known to police.
Montague also would not say if the shooting was targeted or random. He did confirm, however, that police have no indications the shooting was gang-related or that the public should be concerned.
“It was a very brazen act, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “The motive for the shooting in the first place is speculation right now.”
Montague said police are looking at weapons and attempted murder charges, which could be upgraded depending on the victim’s condition.
Investigators are speaking with hundreds of witnesses that saw the shootings or the pursuit, he added.
“We’ve already been inundated with phone calls from people that have photographs and videos they want to share with us,” he said. “We’d ask they hold on to that. We will be in contact.”
- With files from Emily Jackson, Metro.