Police block the driveway to a Canoe residence where a suspected armed robber fled Friday

Armed robbery suspect shot by pursuing officer

Canoe couple caught in middle of RCMP manhunt for suspect in Sicamous robbery.

A police pursuit of a suspect in a Sicamous armed robbery Friday afternoon ended in gunshots on a property in Canoe.

The RCMP Independent Investigations Office (IIO) has taken over the investigation of events following the pursuit that resulted in an adult male suspect being transported to hospital for treatment of serious gunshot injuries. Police say the suspect was shot by an RCMP dog handler, who was also injured in the confrontation, and was taken to hospital for treatment of unspecified injuries.

The shooting concluded the pursuit, which began on July 3 at 5 p.m., after Sicamous RCMP responded to a report of an armed robbery at a gas station. Police say the suspect fled the scene by vehicle – a compact blue SUV with Nova Scotia plates, reportedly stolen out of Saskatchewan.

Police were able to locate the vehicle, and eventually the suspect, after a 911 call was made around 5:30 p.m. by Canoe resident Joyce Skinner.

As events were unfolding in Sicamous, Skinner was watching TV in her home along the Trans-Canada Highway just south of Salmon Arm Go-Karts.

Skinner said her eyes were drawn to her living room window when several police vehicles with lights flashing drove past her home towards Sicamous. She told her husband Glenn about this a little while later when he called to say he’d be home from work in about 15 minutes.

“So I was sitting there and all of a sudden I saw this flash going down our driveway,” said Joyce. “I thought, ‘jeez, that was awful fast, him getting home.’ So I walked into the kitchen where I could see where he always parks his truck beside my car, but there was no truck there.”

Skinner said she then went outside and found a car parked at the end of her driveway, right before a treed embankment that leads to Canoe Creek. She said the car had Nova Scotia plates, and she initially guessed the driver to be a tourist who was lost. When she heard someone running down the embankment, she yelled, “what are you doing?” She received no reply, and was quickly compelled to return to her home, lock the door and call Glenn.

“She told me some strange car just barrelled down the driveway and the guy jumped out of the car and ran into the creek,” said Glenn. “So I drove home and about two minutes later, I pinned the car in with my truck so he couldn’t get away. I didn’t know what was going on… She phoned 911 and I went in the bush looking for him.”

Inside her house, Joyce was talking to the 911 dispatcher, and was informed the car on her property was the one police were looking for. Minutes later, RCMP vehicles were parked at the end of her driveway, with officers laying down a spike belt and shouting at the Skinners to join them immediately.

“They’re yelling at him, they’ve got their vests on, guns and rifles,” said Joyce. “Glenn says, ‘Joyce, you’ve got to come.’ I’m in my pyjamas for number one, I’ve got a cane and our driveway is long. And they’re all waving their arms trying to get us to come to the driveway.”

Upon joining the officers, Joyce said she and Glenn learned of the robbery and were told the suspect was armed with a gun.

Moments later the property and neighbourhood were surrounded in marked and unmarked police vehicles, and highway traffic was blocked as police conducted their search on the ground and by helicopter.

Joyce estimates she and Glenn were standing on the side of the highway for about two hours before gunshots were fired. Glenn said he heard two. Another Canoe resident who lives near the Skinners told the News she heard five.

Joyce said police had located the suspect hiding in a shed on adjacent property.

“The guy will be OK, I do know that and I’m allowed to say that. The police officer, he’s fine too,” said Joyce.

A police officer remained on the Skinner’s property until 4 p.m. the following day when an IIO Forensic Specialist arrived on the scene.

Joyce said she and Glenn were interviewed separately by police as part of the investigation, and they’ve been told not to divulge certain details related to the investigation.

Despite being in the middle of such an intense situation, Glenn and Joyce said they’re not particularly phased by the experience.

“It happened so quickly – it was almost like it was a little movie or something…,” said Joyce, still recognizing how fortunate she and Glenn were. “The head police officer who was here after everything was done, the one who interviewed us, he said it could have been a whole different scenario by you going outside. That guy could have still been standing there and it could have been a lot different. Because he had a gun, right.”

The IIO continues to investigate the shooting, while local RCMP investigate the robbery.