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One dead in shooting at Smith Tower in Vancouver; suspect in custody

One person is dead and several others were injured in a shooting Thursday afternoon in the lobby of Smith Tower in downtown Vancouver.  The suspected shooter, an 80-year-old resident of the senior living building, has been taken into custody after an hours-long standoff with Vancouver police.

He had been contained in his apartment on the building’s 13th floor on the south side since shortly after police were summoned at 2:08 p.m. Police started communicating with him via phone before 3 p.m. About 4:35 p.m., police led him out of the building. He was wearing a gray T-shirt, plaid pajama pants and a baseball cap. Police have not released his name or a motive.

At least three people were shot; one was killed and two patients were transported to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, according to Vancouver Fire Department. Both are in satisfactory condition. 

A 12th floor resident, who was friends with the man who was killed, said police told residents to shelter in place initially. “They had their guns drawn,” she said. “They said, ‘Stay in your apartment.’” She was later evacuated from the building through the garage.

Some people were evacuated and some were sheltered in place. Evacuated residents were kept warm and dry in C-Tran buses.

Inside the 15-floor tower, elevators were shut off as police worked to contain the gunman to the 13th floor. Evacuated residents will likely be able to go home tonight, Vancouver police spokeswoman Kim Kapp said.

“While we are still learning about what happened surrounding the shooting incident this afternoon in downtown Vancouver, our hearts go out to the victims and their families as they deal with this tragedy,” Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle said in a statement. “I commend our police officers, fire and EMS personnel who quickly responded to the scene. I have the utmost confidence in our officers as they work to resolve the situation.”

Areas around the building have been cordoned off and streets are closed. At one point, police used a drone to locate the suspect.

Witness accounts

There were witnesses to today’s shooting. A 77-year-old man who asked not to be identified said he saw the shooter enter the building through the side door. He entered through the same door a short time later. 

When he got inside, the witness said he saw the shooter standing with a handgun in the lobby, and heard “boom-boom.” He turned and fled. He went to the dress shop next door and called 911. 

C-Tran tweeted that Vine and Route 71 are on detours due to the shooting. Turtle Place station is closed; Route 71 is not serving stops south of Eighth Street.

A downtown landmark, the round Smith Tower is clearly visible from nearby Interstate 5. It has 170 units, 15 stories and serves seniors 62 and older. Smith Tower is owned by Mid-Columbia Manor Inc., a nonprofit corporation comprised of local labor unions. Tower residents were recently evacuated from their homes after a natural gas leak at a construction site across the street.

This story will be updated.


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