BLAINE, Wash. — The Peace Arch crossing on the U.S.-Canada border was closed today after a man driving a van with Washington state plates shot a Canadian guard in the neck and then apparently killed himself, a police official said.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Bert Paquet told reporters the female Canadian Border Services Agency officer was breathing when she was flown to a hospital, but he had no further details on her condition.
The officer was in her booth when she was shot. Investigators were trying to figure out what happened and why, Paquet said. They hadn’t confirmed whether the suspect was the van’s owner.
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 the shot.
He said guards immediately responded, and there were people screaming. Officials questioned everyone waiting to cross and took their car registration information.
The officer’s identity and other personal details were withheld. Paquet said U.S. authorities were notified of the incident.
“This is a very serious incident that occurred right on the border line,” he said. “We are sharing information with them.”
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.
It will be up to Canadian border officials to determine when the crossing will reopen, Washington state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kris Olsen said.
“We’re telling people they obviously need to use other routes to get across the border,” she said.
Crossings on State Route 543 and State Route 9 remained open.