RCMP in Northern British Columbia shot and killed a mother and her son in an encounter in the early afternoon of Thursday, April 21, 2016. Family members of the victims have identified the deceased as Shirley Williams, 77, and son Jôvan Williams, 39. The mother and her son were confronted by police at the mother’s home in the small village of Granisle on Babine Lake.
RCMP reported having been called to a “neighbour dispute involving a handgun” at around 12:30 PM local time on Thursday (quoted in CBC News 2016a). Arriving at the home about 1:22 PM they surrounded the home and report attempting to make contact with the residents. Police report that one person exited the home and sometime thereafter shots were fired at approximately 2:50. A second person then reportedly exited the home with shots being fired once more. Paramedics were reported to be waiting nearby and the two victims were pronounced dead at the scene. Anne Williams, a teacher and twenty-year resident of Granisle who was friends with Shirley Williams, reported that she saw five police cars at the shooting scene as well as officers with rifles (CBC News 2016b).
Jôvan Williams was a carpenter who had also worked in security with the Lake Babine First Nation. His aunt, June Williams, reported that he had recently left the security guard job with the Lake Babine Nation to live with and help his mother (CBC News 2016b). Mother and son were longtime residents of the village of Granisle. Residents reported seeing the pair often out together around town. Strangely the local director for the regional district, Tom Liversidge, jumped to conclusions publicly about the shooting suggesting a police friendly take. Without explaining further or providing evidence he suggested: “It’s really a shocking thing. I know everybody is very surprised. Nobody expected that this lady or her son were violent” (quoted in CBC News 2016a).
The incident is presently under investigation by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) the police oversight agency in British Columbia responsible for investigating instances of civilian harm or death involving police officers. Eight Independent Investigations Office investigators have been sent to the village to carry out the investigation. The sheer volume of such instances in the province over the last few years has contributed to a serious backlog of IIO investigations and growing frustration over the lack of answers in several killings by police over that time span.
A stricken June Williams was left to reflect: “My niece has no more mom and no more brother now. They were decent people, they were not troublemakers” (quoted in CBC News 2016b).
CBC News. 2016a. “Police-Involved Shooting Kills 2 in Northern B.C. Village of Granisle.” CBC News. April 21. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/police-incident-shooting-granisle-1.3547972
CBC News. 2016b. “Shirley Williams, 77, and Son Jovan Williams, 39, Confirmed as Victims in Police-Involved Shooting.” CBC News. April 22. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/shirley-williams-77-and-son-jovan-williams-39-confirmed-as-victims-in-police-involved-shooting-1.3548521