May 30th, 2024

Officer in charge tells inquest everything possible was done to save B.C. hostage

By The Canadian Press on April 17, 2024.

The B.C. RCMP Divisional Headquarters is shown in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024. The officer in charge on the day police killed a hostage taker in Surrey, B.C., and the woman he was holding says he believes he did everything possible to save her. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ethan Cairns

BURNABY, B.C. – The officer in charge when police in Surrey, B.C., killed a hostage taker and the woman he was holding says he believes he did everything possible to save her.

RCMP Insp. Blair White told a coroner’s inquest the suspect, Randy Crosson, gave officers a deadline on when he would kill Nona McEwan, and a mental-health professional working with police believed the man wanted to die.

White says the call to the home on March 2019 was the hardest case he was ever involved with because Crosson would not talk to police and they had limited information about what was happening.

He says police broke down the front door of the house so a robot could enter to record sound and video, and Crosson was heard saying that police had an hour before he killed his hostage.

White was at a command post near the home but could not see it directly, and he told the coroner’s jury he approved a plan to use explosives to enter through a door and window of a bedroom where they believed Crosson was holding McEwan.

He says he heard multiple gunshots being fired from what sounded like two different calibre weapons and heard over the radio that the suspect was dead and the hostage had been rescued but was in critical condition.

He said once he launches a plan it is out of his hands and he had hope that Crosson would do the right thing instead of the “absolutely worse thing possible.”

“At the very end, the only one that could have changed the narrative is the subject,” he said.

“They created the circumstances, and they finished the circumstances and unfortunately every opportunity we gave them to stop was not acknowledged,” he said of Crosson.

A report from the province’s police watchdog following the deaths cleared police of wrongdoing and said Crosson held McEwan in front of him as a shield against police bullets.

Coroner’s juries do not place blame but have the option to make recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 17, 2024.

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