Sometimes, when something big happens, you’re only aware of a part of it. Last Thursday I had my own version of the blind men and the elephant.
Came the call from Jennifer, doing summer-school tutoring at the elementary school: there’s a suicidal man with a gun, the school is in lockdown, and we think it’s taking place in the field just west of here — two helicopters just landed there. So I grab the camera and take off along the snowmobile trail, which leads to the field. I see the helicopter there. Thinking I’m too close to the action, and therefore at risk of putting the officers or myself at risk, I double back to the highway and snap a few, distant shots from there (1, 2).
In a nutshell: a 33-year-old man living in the western half of Shawville had a 10-hour standoff with police. During that time, the tactical unit was brought in, as well as an armoured vehicle. The helicopters were probably brought in about the same time. Several surrounding houses were evacuated, but this was all half a kilometre from my home. There is a report that a shot was fired around 11 AM, but it was not until 4:45 PM that the siege ended, when the man emerged from his house and was shot — not fatally — by the tactical unit. (At last report he was in a comatose but stable condition in an Ottawa hospital.)
It’s unfortunate for all concerned that this happened, and astonishing that it happened here.