Update July 20, 8:15 p.m. EDT: The B.C. Coroners Service has identified the victim of the RCMP shooting as James Daniel McIntyre, 48. Many online activists have claimed that McIntyre is Twitter user @jaymack9, who identified as affiliated with Anonymous and tweeted about attending the Site C open house in Dawson Creek in protest.
One of Canada’s latest police shootings occurred in the small northern B.C. community of Dawson Creek last Thursday evening, when RCMP officers shot and killed a man outside of a meeting on the controversial Site C hydroelectric dam.
Police were reportedly responding to a disturbance inside the venue, where a man was ripping down signs and flipping over tables at a public information session held by BC Hydro. Although early reports suggested the man who was shot was the same person who caused the disturbance, investigators have now confirmed that the victim was not involved in the confrontation inside the meeting.
A witness at the scene told CBC the man who was shot was holding a knife and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, which is often associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous. The group recently targeted Canadian government websites to protest Bill C-51.
Although the identity of the victim has not been released, reaction online was swift, with the @YourAnonNews Twitter account vowing to “avenge our fallen” on Friday in a tweet that appears to have been deleted. That account is followed by over 1.4 million people, and is a primary communications hub for the decentralized global Anonymous movement.
Another Twitter user called @jaymack9 had tweeted ahead of the meeting that “an Anonymous splinter group” would attend the information session. That tweet has also now been deleted.
On Saturday, the central Anonymous account announced the launch of “Operation Anon Down.” Typically, operations launched by Anonymous consist of hacks and other internet attacks against websites affiliated with their targets.
This is not the first time a Site C information session has been interrupted. On July 9, a group of Treaty 8 First Nations protesters interrupted a session in Fort St. John with traditional drumming. The group said they were there to remind BC Hydro there are still several unresolved First Nations legal cases regarding the construction of the dam.
In addition to a long list of environmental concerns relating to the alteration of water flow during a record-setting drought, opponents of the dam believe it will be used to power fracking and tar sands operations at a time when the world is calling on Canada to cut emissions.
A witness at the information session recorded three minutes of footage moments after shots were fired. Released online on Friday, it shows two RCMP officers training their guns on the victim for over a minute. Blood can be seen pooling beneath his motionless body. During the first minute of the footage they interact with him and then back away.
At around the 1:15 minute mark, an officer approaches the man and seems to grab at something around his waist. The officer later puts handcuffs on the motionless body.
The shooting is being investigated by B.C.’s Independent Investigation Office, established to look into police-related incidents in 2012. The office has won the favour of police forces but was also criticized in an independent review for assigning former police officers to investigations of police-involved shootings.
Since its creation, the IIO has investigated 121 cases of death or injury involving police officers, but has laid charges in only six of those cases.
Kellie Kilpatrick, a spokesperson for IIO, appeared Friday evening at a press conference in Dawson Creek.
“The individual who was causing the disturbance left the event and did not come into contact with police.”
“We know now that when police arrived in response to that complaint, they came into contact with a second adult male unrelated to the public information session.”
The IIO initially thought the man shot by police was “connected to the complaint,” but now say new evidence contradicts that idea.