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Officer in charge tells inquest everything possible was done to save B.C. hostage

RCMP Insp. Blair White said at a coroner’s inquiry that the suspect, Randy Crosson, gave officers a deadline for when he would kill Nona McEwan, and a mental-health professional working with police believed the man wanted to die.

The leader of the police team in Surrey, B.C. told the court that he believes he did everything he could to save the woman who was held captive by a hostage taker and was eventually killed by the police.

RCMP Insp. Blair White said at a coroner’s inquest that the suspect, Randy Crosson, set a deadline for when he would kill Nona McEwan, and a mental-health professional working with the police thought Crosson wanted to die.

White explained the actions taken by the police during the nine-hour standoff that lasted until the early morning hours of March 29, 2019.

The RCMP emergency response team was responsible for the area around the house after receiving reports that Crosson was inside with a gun.

An armored vehicle was placed on the front lawn of the home so that officers could communicate with Crosson using a loud speaker.

White noted that the suspect pointed a gun out the window and police heard what they thought was a bear banger thrown in their direction.

Attempts to communicate with Crosson were not successful, according to White.

He told the jury that the officers' objective changed from checking on McEwan and arresting Crosson on an outstanding warrant to getting both of them out of the house and arresting Crosson on new charges.

Crosson called 911, telling the operator to have the police leave his house or he would come out and shoot them, White said.

He mentioned that police broke the front door of the house so a robot could enter and record sound and video.

Just before 7 a.m., the robot heard Crosson say “you have an hour or I’m going to kill her,” White told the court.

White said he approved a plan to use explosives to enter through a door and window of a bedroom where they believed Crosson was holding McEwan.

“I did everything I believe that I could have under those circumstances to make the right decisions at the right time for the right reasons with the right resources and assets in place. ”

He mentioned that he heard multiple gunshots fired from what sounded like two different calibre weapons and learned over the radio that the suspect was dead and the hostage had been rescued but was in critical condition.

“There’s nothing worse for a critical incident commander to hear what I heard that day. To go from some form of an elation, hearing that … the victim had been rescued, and then receiving news a short time later from the hospital that that wasn’t the case that she was deceased,” he said.

“It’s heart wrenching. And I feel for the family, feel for the members, I feel for the neighbourhood.”

He said once he launches a plan it is out of his hands and he had hope that Crosson would do the right thing instead of the “absolutely worse thing possible.”

“At the very end, the only one that could have changed the narrative is the subject,” he said.

“They created the circumstances, and they finished the circumstances and unfortunately every opportunity we gave them to stop was not acknowledged,” he said of Crosson.

A report from the province’s police watchdog following the deaths cleared police of wrongdoing and said Crosson held McEwan in front of him as a shield against police bullets.

Coroner’s juries do not assign fault but can suggest ways to prevent similar deaths in the future.

Related

  • Son of person who took hostages tells B.C. coroner’s inquiry that his father was a ’loving’ individual

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