Police allege sacked employee killed his former boss
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Saturday, December 13, 2008 10:38PM EST
A man has been charged with first-degree murder after a shooting at an office Christmas party in Vancouver Friday.
Police allege Eric Allen Kirkpatrick, 61, opened fire at the TallGrass Distribution Ltd Christmas party, killing Benjamin David Banky, 40.
Banky was the CEO of TallGrass Distribution Ltd., a natural health products company.
At least a dozen employees had been celebrating when the gunman, who had been recently laid off, entered the party and began firing a gun, according to Vancouver Police spokesperson Const. Tim Fanning.
The other partygoers managed to escape unharmed.
"The shock was tremendous but all the other people in the business - and there another dozen other people who were there for a Christmas party - managed to get out safely," Fanning said.
Police locked down the neighbourhood before the suspect turned himself in around 6 p.m.
Police said Kirkpatrick was let go on Dec. 11.
A resident who lives in a nearby apartment building told The Canadian Press that he did not hear gunshots, but saw a woman run from the party and into a nearby auto repair shop, where it appears she called for help.
"All of a sudden in my front yard there were five totally decked out, geared up riot squad officers with guns out of the holster, aiming at the second floor of the building right beside us," Luke Pigeon said. "I tried to open up my door and they said close your door, lock your door."
Mark Pinder told The Canadian Press that police ordered a group of film studio employees into the basement of their building, which was across the street from the party.
The group was just about to celebrate the completion of a project when police came knocking, he said.
"People grabbed a couple of bowls of chips and dip and we just sort of moved the party downstairs," Pinder said.
"Some people seemed quite concerned but there wasn't anyone freaking out or crying. Everyone was calling their family and making sure that people knew they were OK."
Pigeon said police spent about two hours negotiating with the suspect before bringing him into custody.
"They cuffed him on the ground and they took him into a cruiser," he said.
"He was giving them a bit of grief, he was saying that his cuffs hurt, but he was following orders."
Employees who had been at the party at the time of the shooting are receiving counselling from the Vancouver police victim's services team.
"I can't emphasize enough how traumatic this would have been for the people in there to see one of their co-workers gunned down, so we're going to do all we can to help these people though a very, very difficult time," Fanning said.
With files from The Canadian Press