Halton police officers retaliated with gunfire when a Hamilton man, who is now facing several charges, pointed a sawed-off shotgun at them in Georgetown Thursday night. Police initially reported the suspect had exchanged gunfire with the officers when they were trying to arrest him at an industrial complex on Sinclair Ave., but now say the suspect didn't actually fire his gun during the incident. "Investigation suggests the two officers, a female constable with almost two years experience and a male constable with almost five years experience, were able to prevent the armed man from firing at them when they recognized the man was pointing his shotgun at them and posing an immediate threat of serious bodily harm or death," said Halton Regional Police Sgt. Peter Payne. No one was injured in the shooting, however, glass in the doors at two units in the Sinclair Ave. complex, including the Georgetown Bread Basket, were shattered by police gunfire. The incident began shortly after 7 p.m. when witnesses saw a man driving a Plymouth Voyageur minivan, later determined to be stolen from Hamilton, involved in a head-on crash with an SUV at Guelph St. and Winston Churchill Blvd in Norval. Police say shortly afterward the driver fled the area in the extensively damaged van with witnesses following him. They called in the man's location to police from their cell phones.
The suspect's vehicle became stuck on a grassy shoulder in the Sinclair Ave. complex. When two officers arrived a short time later the man jumped out of the van and pointed a shotgun at the officers, who were about 10 metres away. Payne said the officers ordered the man to drop the gun, but he refused, so they both fired a number of rounds with their service pistols. "The officers fired their police handguns and successfully found cover. As they did, the man ran onto Sinclair Ave. towards a number of citizens," said Payne. He said the suspect refused to drop the gun when a third Halton officer, who has six years experience, approached him. The officer was concerned he might harm civilians or hijack a vehicle to get away. "He (the officer) acted quickly and was able to take the man into custody before he could pose any further risk to the witnesses and citizens nearby," said Payne. Lee Alas, of Bulldog Appliances, watched the final moments of the incident from the store's window. "The police grabbed him and took him down right in front of the store," said Alas. "It was kind of like watching a TV through our window." She said at approximately 7:10 p.m. her husband Peter looked out the office door and said "there's a guy running down the parking lot with a shotgun in his hand." She said he locked the door and everyone in the store ran to the window to watch what was going on outside. Alas said prior to seeing the man running she heard gunfire, but at the time thought it was a car backfiring. Bulldog Appliances employee Jeff MacNeale accidentally came upon the shooting as he was leaving to go home for the night. He was heading out of the parking lot when he came upon two officers, their guns drawn and pointed at a man in a van. The man had what he first though was an umbrella, but eventually realized was a shotgun. Shots were fired. "I was white as a ghost. I threw my car into reverse and from there I can't really remember what happened," said MacNeale, who later returned to make a statement to
Halton Police. Police Superintendent Signy Pitman praised the officers for their actions. "We are pleased that the officers reacted in a way that is consistent with their police training," said Pitman. "We train our officers for critical incidents such as this but hope they never need to press that training into action. This is not a typical call for our officers and yet they reacted very professionally and in keeping with the high standards have come to appreciate." Charged with failing to remain at the scene of a collision, pointing a firearm, possessing a weapon dangerous to public peace, possession of a prohibited firearm with ammunition, possession of stolen property, breach of recognizance and fail to comply with a probation order is Gerald Rawn, 40, of Hamilton. Rawn, who appeared in Milton court Friday, is facing outstanding theft-related charges in Hamilton in connection with a shoplifting incident at Lime Ridge Mall Feb. 7. On March 24 Hamilton Police issued a warrant for his arrest in connection with the alleged theft of a vehicle from his ex-wife's Hamilton home.
Steve Bard of Starr Glass sweeps up the glass to the Georgetown Bread Basket front door, which was shattered after police opened fire on a shotgun-toting man Thursday night at 55 Sinclair Ave.