A Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) employee is believed to have killed a Prince Rupert woman before fatally shooting himself Monday morning.
Police were called to the inside of Ocean Centre Mall at 8:30 a.m. for a "serious police incident."
Const. Gabriel Gravel with Prince Rupert RCMP says the suspect is believed to have shot the woman, a Ministry of Children and Family Development worker, before attempting to take his own life. The two were known to each other.
Family and friends have identified Patty Forman, 52, as the woman killed at the scene and call her "an amazing soul."
“What a tragedy. Rest in peace, my dear cousin," wrote a family member on a Facebook tribute post.
The 44-year-old male suspect, who has not been publicly identified, died later in the hospital from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The CBSA has confirmed with Glacier Media that he was a CBSA employee.
"The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is aware of the incident that took place at the Ocean Centre Mall in Prince Rupert, B.C., and the involvement of a CBSA employee,” says Rebecca Purdy, a senior spokesperson for CBSA. "We extend our deepest sympathies to the victim’s family during this difficult time.”
Purdy says the CBSA will not be providing further comment at this time due to the active RCMP investigation.
The Office of the Premier confirmed, after a request made by Glacier Media, that Forman was an employee of the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s regional office.
“This was a violent act committed against someone who worked to serve local children and families. This is traumatic news that no family expects to receive, and it’s a tragic event for the tight-knit community of Prince Rupert,” states a joint release from the province, noting their thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim.
“Our hearts also go out to those who acted immediately to provide emergency care, those who may have witnessed this violence and anyone whose safety was threatened by yesterday’s events. We are here for you, and we will be in the days, weeks and months to come.”
Prince Rupert Mayor Herb Pond said the shooting was "truly tragic" and that supports are available for anyone in the small community who may need them.
Pond said his office, located near the scene, was locked down for about 90 minutes, with people being told not to leave. The mall contains several offices, including a Service Canada location.
"When you get the word that this is a truly tragic incident, it's overwhelming. A lot of our staff know at least some of the individuals involved. There's some overlap. So we're offering counselling to our people," he said.
Pond encouraged residents who felt affected by the incident to seek out resources.
"So make sure you reach out and get the help you need. (There's) nothing wrong with getting help," he said.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Dave Uppal said police knew the shooting would be traumatic for the community and set up supports for those who may need help.
Residents are asked to call Prince Rupert Victim Services at 250-627-7779 or VictimLinkBC at 1-800-563-0808.
Eryn Collins, a spokeswoman with the Northern Health Authority, said their Prince Rupert health unit is in the mall, but the incident did not take place in the facility.
She said the offices have been closed until further notice and clients who have appointments have been informed.
The MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, Taylor Bachrach, said he was "shocked and saddened" by the news.
"My thoughts are with the loved ones of those harmed, local first responders and all those affected," he said on Twitter.
In an update Tuesday afternoon, police said they've wrapped up collecting evidence and the mall "has been released back to management."
With files from the Canadian Press