Police were involved in a shootout outside casino property on Thursday morning after an armed man threatened a woman by putting a gun to her head, according to reports coming out of New Westminster today. Beginning at 5.50am, the incident unfolded as people both inside and outside the casino noticed the man behaving suspiciously with a weapon in his hand and reacted by calling the police, who arrived at the scene promptly to take charge of the situation. As various onlookers watched, the man was shot by police after a five hour stand off, and is now recovering in hospital.
Gamers playing on their slot machine games or sitting around the tables were shocked to look outside and see the armed man grab a woman and put his gun to her head, according to eyewitness statements from the night. A subway employee watched it all unfold from a parkade outside the Starlight Casino: “There was a guy with a gun, who had the gun to her head,” they reported. “The lady was screaming,” recalled truck driver Jorge Ochoa, who was near the scene waiting for instructions about where to take a delivery, when he heard the screams. “Somebody saw it and called police. He had her by the neck. “It looked like he was trying to drag her to the bushes.”
Although Ochoa’s first reaction was that he should “do something”, police instructed him to remain by his vehicle and a tense stand off followed as police faced the man down. It was not until shortly before 11am that a police officer finally had the chance to discharge his weapon non fatally, causing the armed man to be taken away to hospital. Police inspector Phil Eastwood told the press that the man had a handgun in his possession and that the woman was an associate of his, who managed to escape to safety unharmed before the stand off came to an end. A police helicopter circled overhead while the concerned casino patrons watched on long after they had finished gambling and a new day had begun.