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Province of Alberta


Report to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General Public Fatality Inquiry

Fatality Inquiries Act

WHEREAS a Public Inquiry was held at the in the on the on the on the on the City
(City, Town or Village)

The Calgary Courts Centre Calgary

(Name of City, Town, Village)

of day of days of day of day of

, in the Province of Alberta, , , 2012


14th 15th 16th 16th

February February February April

, and by adjournment , and by adjournment , and by adjournment .




before into the death of of

Judge G. Sean Dunnigan

, a Provincial Court Judge, 49

Melvin Donald Vanhouwe

(Name in Full)


372 Sabrina Bay, Calgary, Alberta


and the following findings were made:

Date and Time of Death: Place: Medical Cause of Death:

May 24, 2009 at 02:34 a.m.

Foothills Hospital Medical Centre, Calgary, Alberta

(cause of death means the medical cause of death according to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries and Causes of Death as last revised by the International Conference assembled for that purpose and published by the World Health Organization The Fatality Inquiries Act, Section 1(d)).

Multiple Gun Shot Wounds

Manner of Death:

(manner of death means the mode or method of death whether natural, homicidal, suicidal, accidental, unclassifiable or undeterminable The Fatality Inquiries Act, Section 1(h)).

Homicide Mr. Vanhouwe was shot by a member of the Calgary Police Service Tactical Unit after he had taken his neighbour hostage with a sawed-off shotgun.

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Report Page 2 of 9 CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH DEATH OCCURRED: INTRODUCTION [1] In the early hours of May 24th, 2009, Melvin Donald Vanhouwe, in an agitated and intoxicated state, took his neighbour, Devin Gillingham, hostage at gunpoint. [2] Calgary Service Police responded to the high-priority 911 call and confronted Mr. Vanhouwe during the armed hostage taking. [3] As a result of Mr. Vanhouwes non-compliant and threatening response to police commands, and in the interest of public safety and the protection of both the Calgary Police Service and the hostage, the Calgary Police Tactical Unit found it necessary to fire several shots at Mr. Vanhouwe, mortally wounding him. [4] The subsequent autopsy confirmed the cause of death to be multiple gunshot wounds.

[5] At the time of the incident, Mr. Vanhouwe was subject to a 10 year weapons prohibition issued December 29, 2003. Witnesses testifying at this Inquiry [6] Testimony from the following witnesses was heard from February 14th through 16th , 2012 and again on April 16th, 2012: February 14, 2012 Kale Kluthe Resident at 506 Sabrina Road, S.W., Calgary (where incident occurred) /refrigeration mechanic Devin Gillingham Resident at 506 Sabrina Road, S.W., Calgary (where incident occurred) Trades/heavy equipment operator Andrew Cameron Jorgensen Sergeant, Calgary Police Service, member TAC unit / 30 years service February 15, 2012 Sheldon Blain Scott Constable Calgary Police Service, member TAC unit / 12 years service Anthony Dean Stiles Constable Calgary Police Service, member TAC unit / 8 years service Robert Kingsley Williams Inspector, Calgary Police Service / 28 & years service Christopher James Kalyn Member - Tactical Emergency Medical Services (TEMS) / 9 years service

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Report Page 3 of 9 February 16, 2012 Jeffrey Richard Van Caeyzeele Senior Constable Calgary Police Service, Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT) 6 months service / 12 years service CPS Richard Hogan Sergeant, Calgary Police Service, Professional Standards Section / 7 years service; UK Police Services covert investigations /10 years service April 16, 2012 Allan Preston Andrew Brown Investigator, Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) - 4 years service / Calgary Police Service / 29 years service [7] This Inquiry also received a letter from the deceaseds brother, Monty Vanhouwe, who declined to testify, raising two issues he sought to have addressed as follows: (i) recommendations respecting such counseling as may have assisted his brother; and (ii) recommendations on searches and seizures in the deceaseds premises as may have disclosed his illegal possession of weapons and ensured their removal. SUMMARY OF WITNESSES TESTIMONY [8] On May 23rd, 2009, Devin Gillingham and his roommates, Kale Kluthe and Kyle Tanner, were entertaining themselves, friends and co-workers at their residence in south-west Calgary. Approximately 15 to 20 people attended the barbeque in the backyard and on the back deck. [9] A couple of hours into the barbeque, Melvin Vanhouwe, a neighbour who resided across the street from Mr. Gillinghams residence, attended, uninvited, with a cooler of beer and began drinking and engaging the party guests. [10] Mr. Vanhouwe appeared to be intoxicated but not extraordinarily so. At some point, as the evening progressed, a number of the party-goers decided they wanted to go to the casino. Mr. Vanhouwe also wanted to go to the casino and went home, apparently to change. In the interim, the casino-goers left in their vehicle without Mr. Vanhouwe. [11] Devin Gillingham remained at the residence and went inside. Upon returning to the back yard, Mr. Vanhouwe discovered that the others had left for the casino without him and he became enraged, overturning furniture and a stereo system, all of which was recorded on security cameras located at the home. [12] Mr. Vanhouwe returned to his house and retrieved a prohibited pistol-grip sawed-off shotgun. He then returned to the residence across the street, knocked on the door and told

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Report Page 4 of 9 Mr. Gillingham that he wanted him to come outside so he could show him something. Mr. Vanhouwe then pulled out the sawed-off shotgun, showed Mr. Gillingham that it was loaded and told Mr. Gillingham that he intended to kill four of the neighbours with whom he had interacted. [13] Mr. Gillingham told Mr. Vanhouwe to hold tight. He then entered the house and went downstairs to tell three other friends that Mr. Vanhouwe was out of control. These three had observed Mr. Vanhouwe through a window showing Mr. Gillingham that the gun was loaded. After Mr. Gillinghams warning they then exited through the upstairs front door and left the home. [14] When Mr. Gillingham returned to the backyard, Mr. Vanhouwe told him to sit down in a chair across from Mr. Vanhouwe, near the steps to the deck. At that time, Mr. Vanhouwe became aggressive. Recognizing that the situation was changing for the worse, Mr. Gillingham began recording their conversation on his cellphone. Mr. Vanhouwe pointed the shotgun at Mr. Gillingham and struck him on several occasions. [15] Frightened for his life, Mr. Gillingham began to surreptitiously text his roommate, Mr. Kluthe, at the casino, asking them to send the police. From time to time, Mr. Vanhouwe held the gun to Mr. Gillinghams head. [16] Mr. Gillingham texted another friend, Dillon Ritter, telling him he was being held hostage at gunpoint and that he feared he might die. Although Mr. Gillingham felt he needed to get away, Mr. Vanhouwe prevented him from leaving. [17] After receiving Mr. Gillinghams text, Mr. Kluthe contacted police to tell them of the situation. By the time he got a ride back to his residence the police had arrived and were gathered at the top of the block. [18] Once police arrived at the scene, events unfolded quickly. The entire incident from that point forward lasted under five minutes. [19] Police concerns about the safety of the hostage increased when they heard banging, thrashing, and yelling coming from the deck area. As tactical leader, Sergeant Jorgensen was given compromise authority, i.e. power to make decisions and take action at the crisis point which he deemed necessary to protect the hostage, police responders and the community in the face of the dynamic events precipitated Mr. Vanhouwe. [20] Depending on Sergeant Jorgensens observations of the conditions on the scene, he and his team had approval to move in and effect rescue of the hostage if they considered his or their lives to be at risk. [21] Once police confirmed that it was indeed Mr. Gillingham who was sending text messages from the scene, they suggested that his friend text the hostage and see if he could leave. Mr. Gillingham responded that he could not.

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Report Page 5 of 9

[22] A command bus and negotiators had already been summoned and were en-route but events unfolded before their arrival. [23] The very resourceful Mr. Gillingham next told Mr. Vanhouwe that he needed to lock the front door and Mr. Vanhouwe allowed him to walk down the driveway for that purpose. At the end of the driveway, Mr. Gillingham was grabbed by police tactical members and taken to the ground for his and their safety. [24] Upon discovering that Mr. Gillingham was the victim, not the perpetrator, of the hostage incident, tactical members then proceeded down the driveway with their tactical weapons drawn and confronted Mr. Vanhouwe. [25] Mr. Vanhouwe was non-compliant with instructions not to move. To the contrary, Mr. Vanhouwe stood quickly, turned to face the lead officer, Sergeant Jorgensen, and raised his weapon toward the TAC team members. [26] At that moment, Sergeant Jorgensen formed the opinion that Mr. Vanhouwe was attempting to kill him and other TAC members. To stop the threat, the officer discharged three shots from his C8 Colt sub-machine gun, each of which struck Mr. Vanhouwe, ultimately resulting in his death. Sergeant Jorgensen testified he fired as many shots as he felt necessary to stop the threat. [27] It was the recollection of Mr. Gillingham that the lead TAC team officer gave Mr. Vanhouwe to the count of three to drop his weapon and, when he failed to do so and began pointing it at police, the shots were discharged. [28] The tactical team members testimony before this Inquiry differed somewhat in that the officers testified that they are trained not to give such a count. It was the officers testimony that Mr. Vanhouwe was told only Police! Dont move! Mr. Vanhouwe refused to do so and raised the gun to point it at the officers. It was at that moment that the lead tactical member discharged his service weapon, resulting in the death of Mr. Vanhouwe. EMERGENCY MEDICAL RESPONSE AT SCENE [29] Christopher Kalyn, a member of the Tactical Emergency Medical Services unit (TEMS) testified that they were initially summoned to the scene by the command group. Following the shots from Sergeant Jorgensens weapon, TEMS was summoned by the TAC members and attended immediately to Mr. Vanhouwe. Detecting a faint pulse, TEMS officers transported Mr. Vanhouwe immediately to Foothills Medical Centre, arriving at 2:30 a.m. Mr. Vanhouwe was in critical condition, not breathing, unresponsive and had suffered significant blood loss from his gunshot wounds. Ultimately he died of his wounds.

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Report Page 6 of 9 [30] Subsequent to the incident, TEMS identified several minor changes in medical response procedures and equipment but concluded that none of these would have saved or prolonged Mr. Vanhouwes life that night. USE OF NON-LETHAL ALTERNATIVES [31] This Inquiry heard testimony that alternatives to deadly force, such as use of a conducted energy weapon, would not have been appropriate in the circumstances, given that Mr. Vanhouwe had a firearm that he raised quickly toward police. [32] Further, warning shots or shooting to wound are not options consistent with proper police response protocols as such actions pose a safety risk to both police and members of the community. [33] Lastly, it was the conclusion of the both Sergeant Jorgensen and Constable Scott that the on-going threatening and aggressive actions of Mr. Vanhouwe precluded disengagement or other non-lethal options. ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE AND POST-INCIDENT REVIEWS [34] This Inquiry heard additional evidence from other members of the Calgary Police Service tactical unit as well as its chain of command regarding how police responded to this incident, managed the communications and decision-making at the scene, established neighbourhood perimeters, surrounded the property where Mr. Vanhouwe held Mr. Gillingham hostage, and conducted follow-up reviews of police procedures in response to the incident. Particulars of the latter follow. [35] Post-incident reviews identified areas for improvement related to at-scene communication procedures and training for command unit personnel. The recommended changes have been implemented by the Calgary Police Service for training officers to deal with future hostage-taking situations. ALBERTA LAW ENFORCEMENT LAW RESPONSE TEAM (ALERT) [36] This Inquiry heard testimony from Constable Caeyzeele, a member of ALERT, who was requested to inspect 13 firearms that had been seized from the residence of Mr. Vanhouwe pursuant to a Search Warrant as well as the prohibited Winchester sawed-off double pump shotgun wielded by Mr. Vanhouwe on May 23 24, 2009. Constable Caeyzeeles inspection of the Winchester sawed-off shotgun confirmed that it had been loaded with two shells at the time of the incident. The 13 weapons seized from the residence were non-restricted and consisted entirely of rifles and shotguns.

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Report Page 7 of 9 [37] None of these weapons was registered to Mr. Vanhouwe. Several had been reported stolen from their registered owners. [38] Further, Mr. Vanhouwe had no possession/acquisition licence for any firearm in his name. In fact, Mr. Vanhouwe was subject to a 10 year weapons prohibition which had been imposed in 2003. [39] In addition to the rifles and shotguns, law enforcement seized a number of military weapons such as thunder-flashes (grenade simulators) and trip-flares from Mr. Vanhouwes residence. CALGARY POLICE SERVICE PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS SECTION [40] Sergeant Hogan of the CPS Professional Standards Section testified that he conducted an administrative review wherein all documents and audio recordings related to the incident were reviewed to determine if there had been any misconduct or breaches of Calgary Police Service Policy during the incident. [41] Sergeant Hogans investigation determined that no breaches of Calgary Police Service Policy Procedure Manual were disclosed and he recommended that no service investigation into the incident be conducted under the Alberta Police Act. [42] Sergeant Hogan also concluded that the recommended incident command training subsequently implemented would not have affected the outcome of this incident. The speed with which the events unfolded was out of the control of the police officers and enhanced command training would not have changed the events which transpired that night. ALBERTA SERIOUS INCIDENT RESPONSE TEAM (ASIRT) [43] Under s.46(1) of the Alberta Police Act, whenever a person is seriously injured or killed as a result of interaction with the police, the Chief of Police or Commissioner of the RCMP, as the case may be, must notify the Director of Law Enforcement with ASIRT who may then conduct an independent and objective investigation of the injury or death of the individual at the hands of police. [44] The Executive Director has the authority to call for a further review by Alberta Justice or to press charges if he deems there to have been criminal wrong-doing by police in the handling of the matter. [45] In response to a request by the Chief of the Calgary Police Service, ASIRT conducted an investigation of this incident and submitted a detailed report to the Executive Director of ASIRT, Clifton Purvis, in February, 2010.

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Report Page 8 of 9 [46] ASIRTs investigation of the incident disclosed that Mr. Vanhouwe had a long-time, chronic drinking problem and a criminal record involving drug trafficking, impaired driving, dangerous driving, failing to remain at the scene of an accident and possession of stolen property. Mr. Vanhouwe was also subject to a 10 years weapons prohibition which had been in force since 2003. [47] The ASIRT report concluded that when Mr. Vanhouwe refused to comply with Sergeant Jorgensens instructions, the officer, fearing for his life and those of the other TAC team members, fired his weapon in self-defence. [48] After reviewing the Report, the Executive Director Clifton Purvis determined that no criminal charges would flow from the investigation. Both the Executive Director and ASIRT were satisfied that Sergeant Jorgensen was acting lawfully in the execution of his duty when he shot Mr. Vanhouwe. ADDITIONAL FACTS DISCLOSED SUBSEQUENT TO THE EVENT [49] It was subsequently determined by medical personnel at the Foothills Medical Centre that Mr. Vanhouwes blood alcohol at the time of his death was four times the legal limit of 80 milligrams percent and that he had a folding knife hidden in his boot. [50] Through interviews of the brother of the deceased, Monty Vanhouwe, and his wife, ASIRT learned that Mr. Vanhouwe had been an alcoholic all of his life and was, in their view, a lost soul. [51] They had thought he had disposed of his guns. They requested that the guns seized be destroyed. LETTER FROM THE DECEASED BROTHER MONTGOMERY (MONTY) VANHOUWE [52] On February 12, 2012, Monty Vanhouwe forwarded correspondence to Inquiry counsel setting forth certain additional details regarding the sad life of Melvin Donald Vanhouwe. [53] In his correspondence, Monty Vanhouwe asked that this Inquiry make recommendations with respect to two issues as follows:
1. Compulsory police search of residences belonging to individuals subject to 2. Compulsory court ordered counseling for trouble individuals such as Melvin

weapons prohibitions to confirm compliance with the prohibitions; and Donald Vanhouwe.

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Report Page 9 of 9 [54] Monty Vanhouwe submitted in his correspondence that his brother might not have died had he received counseling in the past and had his house been searched and weapons removed from his possession. [55] It is the conclusion of this Inquiry that the first question above is beyond the scope of this tribunal. Further, neither police procedures nor Canadian law contemplate compulsory searches of residences without reasonable and probable grounds and issuance of a search warrant by a justice. [56] The second question above is also beyond the scope of this Inquiry, but it is noted from Melvin Vanhouwes criminal record that he had been sentenced to probation on three prior occasions as well as a Conditional Sentence Order of 20 months in duration. This Inquiry heard no evidence as to whether Mr. Vanhouwe was ordered to undergo counseling as part of his probation and Conditional Sentence Orders but such conditions would have been within the authority and purview of the sentencing judges on the dates of conviction. [57] This Inquiry can make no recommendations regarding the two issues raised in Monty Vanhouwes correspondence. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS [58] Neither the evidence before this Inquiry nor the post-incident reviews conducted by the Calgary Police Service, ALERT or ASIRT disclosed any breaches or deficiencies in policies or procedures or recommended changes in tactical team and command response procedures during the incident of May 24, 2009 or for firearm hostage incidents in general. [59] No witness identified any policies or procedures which might have been implemented to prevent the death of Mr. Vanhouwe on the night in question. The evidence discloses that the progression and outcome of the incident was entirely the result of Mr. Vanhouwes actions that night. [60] This Inquiry makes no recommendations on how the death of Mr. Melvin Donald Vanhouwe might have been avoided.


June 17, 2013 Calgary

, , Alberta.

Original signed by

Judge G. Sean Dunnigan A Judge of the Provincial Court of Alberta

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