SEATTLE (AP) — A Canadian border guard shot in her booth at a busy U.S.-Canada crossing north of Seattle remained hospitalized in stable condition Wednesday as investigators worked to determine the identity and motive of the man who wounded her and committed suicide.
The suspect, driving a white van with Washington license plates, shot Officer Lori Bowcock in the neck at 2 p.m. Tuesday as he was entering Canada at the Peace Arch crossing at Blaine. He then died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound, investigators said.
Officers soon swarmed the scene, closing the crossing as they interviewed witnesses and searched for clues. Investigators blocked off the area around Bowcock’s booth with yellow crime-scene tape and examined the suspect’s van, which sat with its back doors open revealing a mattress inside.
Canadian officials estimated they would reopen the crossing Wednesday afternoon.
The British Columbia homicide investigation team handling the probe was treating the case as an attempted murder. Agents with Homeland Security Investigations were assisting by following leads on the U.S. side of the border, said Andrew Munoz, spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He declined to elaborate.
The border crossing about 100 miles north of Seattle is the third-busiest between the U.S. and Canada. Last month, it averaged 9,000 U.S.-bound cars a day, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Drivers were being diverted to other crossings, including the nearby Pacific Highway crossing, where border officers from Peace Arch were reassigned to help deal with the extra travelers, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Mike Milne.
Investigators have been interviewing witnesses and reviewing video.
Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer said Wednesday his office also followed up on leads and checked out a former address for the suspect in Bremerton. Deputy Scott Wilson told The Kitsap Sun that residents there reported the suspect had moved to King County.
The gunman’s identity has not been released.
Bowcock worked as a civilian dispatcher at police headquarters in London, Ontario, until last spring, police said. Bowcock was hospitalized in Canada, and her family traveled to be by her side, the Canadian Border Services Agency said Wednesday.
The Peace Arch 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. Guards immediately responded and officials questioned everyone waiting to cross, he said.
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 two shots fired.
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.”
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