IIO takes over investigation of standoff

The Independent Investigation Office has taken over the file of armed standoff outside the Starlight Casino in Queensborough on Thursday morning.

The incident ended just before 11 a.m. with shots being heard. New Westminster police later confirmed a man, who had been in car in the casino's parking lot surrounded by police vehicles, including the emergency response unit, for nearly five hours, had been taken to hospital in an ambulance and that no one else had been injured.

New Westminster police closed the Queensborough Bridge because of the incident which began shortly before 6 a.m. It was reopened after the incident concluded.

Earlier in the day, Insp. Phil Eastwood told reporters, "We have a single male who is outside the casino building in an area that is basically cordoned off with the emergency response team. We have negotiators in place that I believe are in communication with him and are just waiting for that situation to resolve itself as safely as possible."

Also at that point, Eastwood could not confirm shots were fired and added, "It is not a hostage situation at all, one male with what we believe is a handgun outside the building with police resources around him."

However, CTV News reported a witness said he heard screaming and saw a woman being dragged into the bushes while another said he heard three shots fired.

The station reported police could be heard on a megaphone pleading with the man to put down the gun, and tried to communicate with the man by sending a robot to deliver a cellphone, but he hasn't used it.

The bridge closure had traffic backed up all over New Westminster and Burnaby during Thursday's morning rush hour. Commuters seeking to get to Richmond were being forced to make their way to the Knight Street Bridge in Vancouver. Commuters coming from Surrey had to take the Pattullo Bridge.

TransLink spokesman Drew Snider also said the 22nd Street SkyTrain station was crowded and there were significant waits.

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