A police officer was wounded in the leg by a man who later took his own life in a shooting incident early Friday morning in southwest Calgary.
Police were called to the 500 block of Canyon Meadows Drive S.W. at about 2:45 a.m. to investigate a man in a vehicle blaring loud music and behaving erratically, police said in a release.
Police Chief Mark Neufeld confirmed Friday afternoon that a single officer responded to this initial call.
When the officer approached, the man fired at him, hitting him in the leg.
The officer returned fire and the man ran toward a nearby park, police said.
"The man continued down the path, where he then took his own life," the release said.
The officer was taken to hospital in stable condition and has since been released. Neufeld said the officer will make a full physical recovery. He also said the officer has been with the Calgary Police Service (CPS) for more than 20 years.
Nearby resident Larry Sever says he was awoken at 2:45 a.m. to the sound of two gunshots.
"We opened the blinds. About five minutes later, we heard a whole bunch of other gunshots, and then it was just a whole bunch of police cars coming in," he said.
"There were about 10 cars, two ambulances and a couple of white vehicles. I don't know what they were."
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) is investigating and no further details were made available. ASIRT investigates when a police interaction results in death or serious injury.
Neufeld said CPS will be conducting its own operational review of policies, training and equipment, as it does following any critical incident like the one Friday morning.
'Very disconcerting' rise in violence, police chief says
John Orr, president of the Calgary Police Association, said the shooting could have ended in a much worse situation.
"If not for the professionalism, the training and the bravery shown by our officer, we would be having a very different conversation today," he said Friday afternoon at the graduation ceremony of CPS's latest recruit class.
Orr said the incident sheds light on the dangers police officers face on the job.
Neufeld said he's concerned about the violence committed against police officers locally and across the country.
"We see physical assaults and this type of thing and I think it's a very disconcerting trend that we're seeing," he said.
The police chief also noted the general rise in violence the city has seen this year. There have been 23 homicides so far in Calgary, and the number of shootings have surpassed 100. Neufeld said it's difficult to attribute the rise in violence to any specific cause.
"What we have seen is that a small portion of the community is willing to pull the trigger in Calgary," he said. "They're willing to use violence, serious violence against other citizens, and they're willing to use serious violence against the police."
Mobile crisis team in the works
Shawn Cornett, chair of the Calgary Police Commission, said it's concerning to hear news of an injured officer on graduation day for new CPS officers.
"There's 22 young people who stepped up to help keep this community safe, and when you see what harm can be done, it's of huge concern," she said.
Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said incidents like Friday's shooting often involve people in vulnerable circumstances, and working with mental health and addictions organizations can help prevent crisis situations.
"[I'm] very happy that we've been working towards mobile crisis response teams so that incidents like this are fewer," she said.
Earlier this month, CPS announced it was partnering with The Alex Community Health Centre to deliver a one-year mobile crisis response pilot program. The goal is to have community health staff to respond alongside plainclothes officers to certain 911 and 211 calls in lieu of uniformed police.
While they're still in the hiring phase of that project, Alex Centre CEO Joy Bowen-Eyre said they will debrief Friday's incident with police to see what they can learn.
"We were constantly evaluating each and every call, each and every response so that we can adapt, tweak, adjust the staffing model and the response and the type of team that's sent out," she said.
Bowen-Eyre says the Alex Centre is hiring nurses, social workers and peer support workers to be part of the pilot.
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