A series of emergency alerts sent out on Monday after a shooting spree in Langley was only the second time in history that the alert was used for an active shooter in British Columbia.
Police used the alert to ask the public to stay out of the area after a lone gunman shot and killed two people and injured two others. Police found the suspect shortly before 6 a.m. on Monday and fatally shot him.
During a press conference on Monday, Sgt. David Lee with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team says the alert was sent at the appropriate time.
“As the information became known to us and a proper risk assessment was done... at that time was the best time that we were able to issue the alert and ties these things together,” says Lee.
City of Langley Mayor Val van den Broek woke up to the alert, like many British Columbians.
“I’ll tell you, it was heartbreaking to read that announcement,” she says.
The first alert came just after 6:15 a.m. asking the public to stay out of the area and describing the suspect. A second alert was issued just after 8 a.m., stating there was no longer a threat and to stay out of the area, but it did not say where the location was.
Then at 3:32 p.m., a final alert was issued, cancelling the public safety alert.
Lower Mainland District RCMP operations officer Chief Supt. Ghalib Bhayani says there's a criteria that must be met before issuing alerts.
“Reasonable belief that there is an active threat that presents a significant risk of serious harm to the members of the public,” he says. “Second, the threat situation is unpredictable, evolving very, very quickly and presents major challenges to police response, capacity to respond.
"And third, sufficient information is available regarding the threat and the geographic area involved to provide clear direction on what action to take to stay safe."
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced the emergency alerts that were sent will be reviewed.
“Whenever there is situation such as this there always is investigations and reviews. The police were dealing with a very fluid and dynamic situation,” says Farnworth.
The first time an active shooter alert was issue in the province was last November, in Vanderhoof.
“They have learned lessons from what happened in Nova Scotia and Vanderhoof, so of course they will review how things were done and the way they were done,” he says.
E-Comm, the 911 service and dispatcher for Metro Vancouver and B.C., issued a tweet asking people to stop calling and complaining about the emergency. Staff said 911 should only be dialled for emergencies.