Police shoot woman with beanbag gun at BC Women’s Hospital

VPD arrested and shot a woman with a beanbag gun at BC Women’s Hospital after reports say she had a weapon. The BWSS says the situation should have been de-escalated.

Vancouver police shot and arrested a woman at BC Women’s Hospital Thursday morning after police say she was in the hospital with a weapon.

According to the Vancouver Police Department, a call came in from hospital staff shortly after 10:30 a.m.

“The woman was acting threatening towards staff, patients, and other members of the public,” VPD spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison told CityNews.

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According to social media reports, the woman was in the Families in Recovery (FIR) Square unit, a specialized unit within the maternity wing that provides care to women and birthing parents using substances, and infants exposed to these substances. It is the first of its kind in Canada.

During the arrest, police officers “deployed a less-lethal beanbag shotgun,” Addison said, adding that the “intermediate force weapon” is used in certain situations when police officers are dealing with a person with a weapon.

Police did not confirm what kind of weapon the suspect was in possession of when arrested, although it was reported to be a knife initially, Addison told CityNews that when police arrived she “was in possession of a different weapon.”

Police are not disclosing what the weapon was, however, they are now investigating whether she may have used multiple weapons, Addison said.

Patients and staff in the area were able to lock themselves in secure rooms, Addison said, and the woman was taken into custody without “any serious injury”, or injuries to other patients, babies, or staff.

Addison confirmed the woman had previously been a patient at the hospital, however, it is unrelated to the Amber Alert which was linked to another patient at the hospital on Monday night.

In a Twitter thread Thursday evening, Vancouver police say it received reports the woman was trying to break into a locked nursery with a knife, “and that she had lunged at a staff member with a weapon in her hand.”

“The woman was arrested for possession of a weapon, assault, and breach of probation,” police said on Twitter.

Battered Women’s Support Services has since tried to find and help the woman, telling CityNews there may be a possibility she was reacting to her child being taken away by the Ministry of Child and Family Development.

“This is horrific,” Angela Marie McDougall of the BWSS said. “Knowing how challenging it is for women that are navigating pregnancy as well as substance use, and what that means in terms of housing, in terms of survival, and all the challenges with the housing crisis, and thinking that the only option that we have for women that are in distress is the police — who then deploy a beanbag round — is astonishing.

“There are so many ways to de-escalate someone that’s in distress. But the first thing we do, is we recognize the reason for the distress, and we provide empathy,” she explained. “And we understand the context of the distress, and we respond to the reasons for the distress. The last thing we need is a big hammer coming down on women in what amounts to the maternity ward.”

McDougall says FIR Square is a revolutionary program that allows women and parents to gain the support they need “to heal and grow.”

“We know that the postpartum time is a very delicate time, and so that means a real trauma-informed approach to care, [and] the nursing [staff] would really understand the social conditions.

“This has always been a vital place. And I would never [think] in a million years that this will be a place where we would ever see a situation where the police would be there with a beanbag round, firing a beanbag round,” she said.

CityNews has reached out to BC Women’s Hospital and Provincial Health Services Authority for comment.

With files from Allan Chek

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