Community holds vigil for Siksika Nation member killed in Christmas Day police shooting

Community members held a candlelight vigil at the Strathmore, Alta., gas station where the fatal police shooting happened early Christmas morning.   (Terri Trembath/CBC - image credit)
Community members held a candlelight vigil at the Strathmore, Alta., gas station where the fatal police shooting happened early Christmas morning. (Terri Trembath/CBC - image credit)

As Alberta's police watchdog continues to investigate the Christmas morning shooting involving Strathmore RCMP, family and friends of the man who died gathered Thursday evening for a candlelight vigil.

Standing in the parking lot of the Husky gas station in Strathmore, Alta., about 50 kilometres east of Calgary, community members gathered to remember Nathan Leather with flowers, songs and prayers.

Ida Duck Chief, his mother-in-law, described Leather as a father, a husband, a son, and a friend to many. She said he had seven children, three of whom were adopted.

"Nathan was a good person," she said. "You can tell by all the people that showed up today."

Christmas Day shooting 

Leather died following the shooting in the pre-dawn hours of Christmas morning.

According to the RCMP, officers responded around 3:30 a.m. to an unwanted person call at the Husky gas station in Strathmore.

There were complaints of a male causing a disturbance. 

In a statement, the RCMP said a man confronted police with a weapon, prompting officers to discharge their firearms.

Leather, 39, was struck and died of his injuries.

'We need to respect the person'

Community members say Leather was dealing with issues in his life and was not a perfect man.

"We don't fully know what all happened," said Ouray Crowfoot, the chief of Siksika Nation. "There's an investigation taking place, but it's just far too often that you hear about these stories with our people."

Terri Trembath/CBC
Terri Trembath/CBC

He added that Leather was a member of the community, not a "nameless person on the street." 

"We need to respect the person, and the process and see what happens with this investigation," Crowfoot said. "More importantly, we need to be there for the family."

No other details of the shooting have been released. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating.

A funeral for Leather is scheduled for next week.