Woman shot dead in Prince Rupert murder-suicide worked for B.C. Childrens Ministry

RCMP officers investigate a shooting Monday morning at the Ocean Pacific Mall in downtown Prince Rupert.  (Matt Allen/CBC - image credit)
RCMP officers investigate a shooting Monday morning at the Ocean Pacific Mall in downtown Prince Rupert. (Matt Allen/CBC - image credit)

An employee of the B.C. Ministry of Children and Family Development has been identified as the victim of a murder-suicide Monday morning involving a member of the Canadian Border Services Agency at a downtown Prince Rupert, B.C., office mall.

The confirmation was made by the premier's office in a written statement Tuesday afternoon.

"This was a violent act committed against someone who worked to serve local children and families," said Aileen Machell, the office's director of communications. "It's a tragic event for the tight-knit community of Prince Rupert."

Earlier in the day, the Canada Border Services Agency confirmed that one of its employees was involved.

A 44-year-old man entered Ocean Centre Mall and shot a woman before "turning the gun on himself" at around 8:30 a.m. PT Monday, said Prince Rupert RCMP spokesperson Const. Brody Hemrich.

The 52-year-old female victim died before she could be taken to hospital.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to the victim's family during this difficult time," said Rebecca Purdy, a senior spokesperson with the Canada Border Services Agency, in a written statement to CBC News.

RCMP say the shooter knew the woman who was killed. He was taken to hospital in critical condition but was dead by Monday evening.

RCMP have not named the deceased.

Matt Allen/CBC
Matt Allen/CBC

Few other details have been released about the incident in the northwestern coastal city, but in a written statement, RCMP Cpl Madonna Saunderson said police "know the traumatic impact this incident will have on many people."

Prince Rupert RCMP cordoned off the block around Ocean Centre Mall, a multi-use complex and workspace downtown that includes government offices, an alternative school and a café, while it investigated the shooting on Monday.

Julea Ocampo, co-owner of the Fresh Onion Cafe in the building, said she heard "multiple gunshots" as she was opening up around 8:30 a.m. Monday morning.

Ocampo said her co-worker rushed into the cafe kitchen and told her, "I think there's somebody shooting outside."

The women called 911 and hid inside the cafe until the RCMP arrived.

Matt Allen/CBC
Matt Allen/CBC

Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond called it "truly tragic." He said his office in city hall, one block away, was locked down for about 90 minutes.

"A lot of our staff know at least some of the individuals involved," said Pond.

"In a town of roughly 12,000 souls, everybody knows everybody. There's hardly a person in town that isn't impacted."

Pond encouraged residents who felt affected by the incident to seek out help. RCMP Staff Sgt. Dave Uppal said support and resources are in place to help those who need it.

A  dozen people were gathered outside the Ocean Centre Mall on Monday morning. One woman was seen weeping.

Premier David Eby expressed his sympathies at a news conference, calling the police incident "incredibly troubling ... Our hearts go out to everyone affected ... all British Columbians are thinking of the people in Prince Rupert."