Driver wounds border agent at US-Canada crossing
BLAINE, Wash. (AP) -- Canadian police are interviewing witnesses and reviewing video to learn why a man driving from the United States into Canada shot and wounded a female Canadian border guard.
Complicating their investigation, however, is the death of the man, whom police believe died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The gunman was driving a van with Washington state license plates, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Bert Paquet said. The shooting Tuesday closed the Peace Arch crossing on the U.S.-Canada border, prompting officials to divert drivers to other crossings.
Canadian officials will determine when the crossing will reopen, Washington Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kris Olsen said.
The female Canada Border Services Agency officer was shot in the neck and seriously injured while she was in her booth, Paquet said. He had no details on her condition.
Investigators didn't immediately confirm whether the driver was the van's owner. Police were confident the unidentified man took his own life, based on initial investigations at the scene, Paquet said Tuesday evening, adding that there were no other suspects "at this time."
"Officers will be working 'round the clock," he said.
The injured officer's identity and other personal details were withheld pending notification of relatives, Paquet said.
The Peace Arch crossing in Blaine is the third-busiest port of entry on the northern border. Last month, it averaged 9,000 U.S.-bound cars a day, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
The crossing features a park with a 67-foot-high monument in the form of an arch that connects the U.S. and Canada.
Canadian Brian White told reporters at the scene he was waiting to cross northward when he heard a shot. He said guards immediately responded, and that officials questioned everyone waiting to cross.
Kevin McAllister, assistant general manager at the Peace Portal Golf Course, which is adjacent to the border crossing, said an employee and several guests told him they heard shots fired at around 2 p.m.
"Two shots were fired," he said. "We've heard fire, police, ambulance heading southbound on (Highway) 99, which is probably about a couple hundred yards from the 18th green. So that's what they heard when all hell broke loose."
McAllister said he also heard and saw a police helicopter hovering over the 10th and 11th fairways, which are the closest fairways to the highway and the border crossing.
Paquet said Canadian officials were sharing information with U.S. authorities. "This is a very serious incident that occurred right on the border line," he said.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said she spoke to British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and pledged the state's cooperation and help in the investigation.
"This tragedy hits especially close to home, and reminds us all that our public safety officers put their lives on the line every day to protect the rest of us," Gregoire said.
Her remarks were echoed by the president of the Canada Border Services Agency.
"This is a profound reminder of the risks that border services officers assume every day," Luc Portelance said in a statement from Ottawa. "I know that the courage and dedication of our officers are second to none."
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)