A border guard shot at the Douglas (Peace Arch) crossing Tuesday was unarmed and just a few months into the job when the incident occurred.
According to a statement released by the Canada Border Services Agency late Wednesday afternoon, Lori Bowcock “joined the CBSA family a few months ago.”
“Once she completed her training at the CBSA College in Rigaud in July, she was deployed to the Pacific Region that same month, becoming a valued member of our CBSA team at the Douglas port of entry,” states Roslyn MacVicar, CBSA’s Pacific Regional director general.
“As a recent graduate, she has not yet completed the arming program training.”
Bowcock remains in stable condition in hospital. She was shot in the neck just before 2 p.m. Oct. 16, by a motorist who arrived at her booth in a white van.
The male driver shot and killed himself in the process.
Officers with the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team are investigating, and MacVicar would not discuss further circumstances of the shooting, which closed the border in both directions for more than 24 hours (southbound lanes reopened at 4 p.m. Wednesday; northbound lanes reopened at 8 a.m. Thursday).
She did say that Bowcock’s mother and brothers are by her side, and that the officer is expected to make a full recovery.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon through the CBSA, Bowcock’s family said they are “grateful” she is alive.
“Since Tuesday’s events, we have experienced every possible emotion,” the family states.
“She is doing well and we are happy to report that her positive outlook and sense of humour are shining through.”
The family thanked medical staff at Royal Columbian Hospital for “the best care possible,” and said Bowcock is “deeply moved” by the concern and support that has poured in since she was wounded.
Bowcock’s assignment to the border was “her dream career,” the family adds.
“Even after she was wounded, Lori’s first concern was for the safety of her fellow officers and the public that she has dedicated her career to protect.
“Lori acknowledges how difficult this time must be for the family and friends of (gunman) Andrew Crews. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”
As police continue efforts to figure out what motivated Crews, Bowcock’s former colleagues are doing what they can to ease her road to recovery.
“A lot of people are coming forward locally to support the family,” Sgt. David Rektor of the Ontario Provincial Police told Peace Arch News, describing fundraising that has so far included a Thursday luncheon. “A lot of good things are happening around London today.”
Rektor said word that Bowcock had been shot while on duty spread quickly Tuesday amongst staff and volunteers at the Middlesex communications centre where the “highly thought of, cheerful person” had worked for four years as an auxiliary constable and part-time 911 dispatcher.
The news was “a real shocker,” Rektor said.
“It wasn’t too long ago, one of our own got shot and killed here. This just opens up those wounds… brings you back to the things that are important to you.”
Rektor was referring to the March 2010 line-of-duty death of OPP Const. Vu Pham. The 37-year-old father of three was shot and killed north of London, Ont., while making a traffic stop, by a 70-year-old man who was reportedly distraught over his marriage.
The risk to life and limb is one police and other emergency personnel accept going into the job, Rektor said.
“We go to work every day, you just don’t know whether or not you’re going home at the end of the day – but that’s what we all sign up to do,” he said.
“When it happens and it’s close to home, it makes you sit back a few seconds and say, well… there’s reality to what we do here.”
MacVicar said the Employee Assistance Program and Critical Incident Stress Management services are readily available to CBSA staff who need them.
Incidents such as Tuesday’s shooting “can have “a lasting impact on the people involved,” she said.
“This incident is a profound reminder of the risks that border services officers assume every day in their role to protect the safety and security of all Canadians.
“I want to underscore that the safety and security of our border services officers is of utmost importance to the CBSA. I also want to acknowledge the professional and poised manner in which our officers at Douglas, and elsewhere, responded to the terrible shooting of a CBSA officer.”
Rektor described Bowcock as a “very well-respected” dispatcher and volunteer. Further fundraising efforts are planned.
“We have intentions of doing some other stuff across our region here to help the family out,” he said. “We just want to do what we can to make it as normal as possible, and less stressful as possible, for the family.
“Everybody wants to help.”
Fraser Health announced Friday afternoon that Bowcock’s family provided the following announcement:
Due to the many offers to donate funds for Lori Bowcock, the family has set up a CIBC non-charitable account in the name of “CBSA Border Officer Bowcock.” Please contact the Surrey Branch of CIBC at 15177 North Bluff Road, White Rock, BC V4A 6G3 Telephone 604-541-4525