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Man in Guy Fawkes mask threatened police with knife before fatal shooting, inquest hears

·3 mins read

Numerous witnesses at an inquest into the RCMP shooting of a masked man linked to Anonymous testified that police repeatedly warned the man to drop his knife.

James McIntyre, 48, was shot dead outside a public meeting about the controversial Site C dam project in Dawson Creek, B.C. in July 2015.

Contributed
Contributed

On Monday, coroner's counsel John Orr told the inquest that two RCMP officers saw a man in a "very strange mask with moustache" who kept coming towards them with a knife until they could "see his eyes."

Orr said the police tried using pepper spray on McIntyre before one officer fired his gun.

B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office has already cleared the officer of any wrongdoing.

Inquest witnesses described McIntyre's mask as "something you'd see on Facebook" and a mask from a "group of people that like to stir it up."

McIntyre was wearing a Guy Fawkes mask linked to the activist group Anonymous, which later claimed him as one of their members.

Inquest witness David Graham testified he encountered the masked man as he stepped outside a Dawson Creek hotel and restaurant to make a phone call while dining with his wife.

CBC
CBC

"Why does this guy have a mask on? [It] seems strange," Graham remembered.

Soon after, Graham saw the masked man hold up a knife. Graham testified he heard RCMP officers tell the man repeatedly to drop the knife.

He said the officers' last command was "blood curdling. 'Put down the knife!'"

Another witness testified police told McIntyre eight times to drop the knife.

Witness Jeffrey White said he and a coworker left the Site C meeting for a smoke break. Outside, they saw a masked man coming toward them.

"He had a knife in one hand and a cellphone in the other," White testified by telephone. "He was walking at a good pace. He had a mission. He had intentions."

Facebook
Facebook

He said one officer pepper sprayed the masked man but it made him "get even angrier."

Then White heard a bang.

RCMP had been dispatched to the Site C public meeting after a man disrupted the event, yelling and overturning tables. Witnesses testified that man was not McIntyre.

McIntyre had worked as a dishwasher at a locally-owned restaurant.

His employer, Tracy Nguyen, told the inquest she had never heard him talk about politics or Site C. But she said he was very environmentally conscious.

She testified that McIntyre had a car but refused to drive it, brought home items from work to recycle, and urged his co-workers to turn off lights and water taps.

"All the staff loved him," she said. "I can't believe he was shot dead, still to this day."

In a statement read out to the inquest, McIntyre's sister said her brother Jim, was a "small man with a big heart." She said he was very intelligent, had a passion for model trains and gave generously to charities.

Corey Pfeifer/Facebook
Corey Pfeifer/Facebook

She said McIntyre rooted for the underdog and would speak out about injustice.

In 2016, McIntyre's cousin told CBC that McIntyre had been concerned about damage from the Site C dam and its impact on local First Nations and farmers.

On Tuesday, the RCMP officers involved in McIntyre's shooting are scheduled to testify.

The inquest is streaming live from the Dawson Creek courthouse, with many witnesses testifying by phone or video link because of COVID.