(Published Dec. 8, 2008 in the Cape Breton Post.)
WAGMATCOOK – The common-law wife of a man shot by RCMP Tuesday says the officer who pulled the trigger told her at the scene he shot because he felt his life was in danger.
“The officer told me, ‘John reached for his rifle. I felt my life was in danger, and I fired.’
“I asked, ‘Is he alive?’ and another officer said yes.
“Then I heard John say, ‘They shot me,’ in a very raspy voice, but it was chaotic around me,” said Patsy MacKay, the common-law wife of John Andrew Simon, 44, who died at Baddeck hospital approximately three hours later.
MacKay said she had been kept out of the house and was waiting along with a crowd gathered nearby. She said after she heard three shots fired rapidly she asked to be let inside.
“I said to them, ‘If you shot my husband, I want to talk to him because it could be my last chance,'” MacKay said.
Officers at the scene initially told her she would have to wait for EMS to arrive, but would not allow her into the house when paramedics reached the scene, she said.
“I was never allowed in,” she said. “I never spoke to him. He was already unconscious when they took him out. I was yelling, ‘I love you,’ but his eyes were closed and he wasn’t breathing that great.”
MacKay said media reports that the incident was the result of a domestic dispute are wrong and frustrating.
“There was no dispute between him and I,” she said. “He was suicidal.”
MacKay said she got home from work at about 4 p.m. Tuesday and cooked supper for herself and Simon, though he did not eat. She said he had been drinking alcohol and had stopped taking his insulin. MacKay said she left the house at about 7 p.m. and sometime later she received a call from Simon.
“He called me and said he was going to kill himself,” MacKay said. “He said he was tired of being sick. He hadn’t taken his insulin in two days, and he’s supposed to take 20 units twice a day. He was drinking vodka and he was very, very intoxicated.”
MacKay said Simon told her not to call police, and that if he saw police he would shoot himself. MacKay said she then called Simon’s mother and asked her to call Simon to see if she could talk him down. MacKay said she believes it was after that call that someone at Simon’s mother’s house called 911.
MacKay said she realized the police were at the house when they called her. She said she told them, “Leave him be, he’ll pass out soon.”
She said she was concerned about police being at the house because of her earlier conversation with Simon.
“There was no reason to go into the house,” she said. “There was an emergency response team there, but I have no idea why they entered.”
MacKay said she believes police entered by opening a large window in the back. When she was allowed to go inside the house, the window was all the way up and the deadbolts on both doors were intact, she said.
The Halifax Regional Police Force integrated critical incident team is investigating the shooting with assistance from the RCMP Northeast Nova major crime section. The RCMP officer responsible for the shooting has not yet been identified.