The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation is mourning the loss of 28 year-old Julian Jones, who was shot and killed by police on Saturday, Feb. 27.
A statement released by the BC RCMP on Feb. 28 says two Tofino RCMP officers arrived at an Opitsaht residence around 9:30 p.m. searching for a woman they believed to be in distress.
“When they arrived an interaction took place and one male was shot and another was taken into custody,” the statement reads adding that one man remains in police custody.
An investigation into the shooting has been launched by the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia and the Vancouver Island General Investigative Section is investigating the report that brought police to the residence searching for a woman allegedly being held against her will.
Anyone with information related to the shooting should immediately call the IIO witness line at 1-855-446-8477.
Police say no one else was injured in the incident and that the woman was located and taken to hospital for medical assessment.
Opitsaht is a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation community located on Meares Island, roughly two kilometres from Tofino.
Jones is the second Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation member to be shot and killed by police within the past nine months. In June of last year, 26 year-old Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman Chantel Moore was fatally shot by a police officer conducting a wellness check at her New Brunswick home.
“There’s a lot of anger,” Tla-o-qui-aht Emergency Preparedness Coordinator and EOC Chair Elmer Frank told the Westerly News Sunday evening.
He said that anger was expressed by Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members through social media on Sunday and Jones’ family is asking their communities to be respectful and hold off on posting about their frustration.
“Right now what the family is asking for is just to back off on the social media posts. We know that everybody is angry and frustrated right now but let’s get through these emotions and just grieve with each other right now…It hasn’t been 24 hours yet, the family is wanting to just be at ease right now,” Frank said.
“They’re asking our community members to be respectful, to allow the process to happen and allow the investigations to go through and asking for that time to be able to grieve…They don’t want to place any judgement before anything is concrete before them in terms of investigation results. Right now they’re just asking for that time to be able to fathom the loss.”
He said Jones was known as a helpful member of the community who always acknowledged his family.
“He was very helpful in the community. He always had a willing helping hand. He was certainly a very helpful man for sure. Everybody has their challenges as well as this young man, but there was hope that they were going to get through them,” he said. “He was very close with his parents…They’re definitely suffering.”
He said the First Nation held a community meeting via Zoom on Sunday afternoon and is trying to support each other virtually.
“It’s really difficult because normally we would be there supporting families physically. Considering that the pandemic is holding us back, following all of the public health orders,” he said. “We’re trying virtually, we’re continuously having Zoom meetings and telephone calls with the families…It’s the toughest thing that we have to go through when we’re going through loss because everybody in the world wants to be with families and friends when they have tragic losses.”