Wednesday, October 17, 2012
BLAINE, Wash. (AP) — Canadian border guard Lori Bowcock, shot in the neck in her booth at the Peace Arch Crossing, had worked as a civilian dispatcher at police headquarters in London, Ontario, until last spring, police said.
Bowcock, who is in stable condition, was wounded Tuesday by a man entering Canada in a van with Washington license plates who then died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Bert Paquet.
British Columbia’s Integrated Homicide Investigation Team is treating the case as an attempted murder.
The border crossing about 100 miles north of Seattle has been closed since the shooting 2 p.m. Tuesday, and the estimated reopening is 4 p.m. Wednesday, according to the website for the British Columbia travel information agency DriveBC. Drivers have been diverted to other crossings.
The gunman has not been identified, and the motive for the shooting is unknown.
Investigators have been interviewing witnesses and reviewing video.
The Peace Arch crossing in Blaine is the third-busiest port of entry on the northern border. Last month, it averaged 9,000 U.S.-bound cars a day, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The crossing features a park with a 67-foot-high monument in the form of an arch that connects the U.S. and Canada.
Canadian Brian White told reporters at the scene he was waiting to cross northward when he heard a shot. Guards immediately responded and officials questioned everyone waiting to cross, he said.
Kevin McAllister, assistant general manager at the Peace Portal Golf Course, which is adjacent to the border crossing, said an employee and several guests told him they heard shots fired.
“Two shots were fired,” he said. “We’ve heard fire, police, ambulance heading southbound on (Highway) 99, which is probably about a couple hundred yards from the 18th green. So that’s what they heard when all hell broke loose.”
McAllister said he also heard and saw a police helicopter hovering over the 10th and 11th fairways, which are the closest fairways to the highway and the border crossing.
Paquet said Canadian officials were sharing information with U.S. authorities. “This is a very serious incident that occurred right on the border line,” he said.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said she spoke to British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and pledged the state’s cooperation and help in the investigation.
“This tragedy hits especially close to home, and reminds us all that our public safety officers put their lives on the line every day to protect the rest of us,” Gregoire said.
Her remarks were echoed by the president of the Canada Border Services Agency.
“This is a profound reminder of the risks that border services officers assume every day,” Luc Portelance said in a statement from Ottawa. “I know that the courage and dedication of our officers are second to none.”