There are many questions surrounding the death of Jared Lowndes, a 38-year-old Indigenous man, at the hands of the Campbell River RCMP.

“The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) is calling for justice, accountability, an inquest, and a higher level of oversight in the aftermath of the RCMP’s shooting of Jared Lowndes on July 8, 2021. The incident, which saw no attempt at de-escalation from the RCMP, left the 38-year-old father dead, his family seeking answers, and a community divided, as racist, hateful sentiments begin to rise.” – First Nations Leadership Council

“Our investigation will determine what actually happened. Just because it is on social media doesn’t mean it is, or isn’t, factual. We’ll do our best to determine what happened and if appropriate, before we complete our investigation, we will consider releasing some facts,” said Ron MacDonald, Chief Civilian Director of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO).

What the RCMP & the IIO said

According to the RCMP press release:

“Just before 9 a.m. on July 8th, a member from the Campbell River RCMP attempted to stop a vehicle in relation to an outstanding warrant. It is reported that the vehicle failed to stop and fled the area. The member notified dispatch and its description was provided to other police officers in the area.” “A short time later the suspect vehicle was located in a parking lot in the 2000 block of the South Island Highway in Campbell River. A police officer boxed in the vehicle and then a confrontation occurred between the suspect and the police officer, who had a Police Service Dog. During the interaction the Police Service Dog was stabbed and killed, and the suspect was shot and was pronounced deceased on scene. The Police Dog Handler was also treated for a knife wound. No other persons were injured.” – BC RCMP notify the IIO BC of a fatal incident in Campbell River
Jared Lowndres, his family and puppy

Jared Lowndes, his family and puppy - photo submitted by family

Local media added a few other details:

That last scenario is at least partially true, for shortly before his death Lowndes wrote, “My daughter, dog and I are now broke, and homeless, left to wander until our car breaks down.”

Unfortunately McDonald could not confirm any of these facts because the investigation is still ongoing, there were still witnesses to be interviewed, and his department did not want to influence their testimony. He did say there were “several officers in the area” when the shooting occurred.

The warrant for Jared Lowndes arrest

The Independent Investigations Office said they cannot give any information about the warrant for Lowndes at this time.

The National Police Federation said it was an outstanding warrant for weapons offences.

In the bitter Facebook exchange that followed Lowndes death, Josie Patterson wrote that the warrants were 8 years old, “None of the charges have been proven. Those are all alleged and always will be since he was murdered before he had a chance to defend himself …”

Shortly before his death, Lowndes wrote:

“I spent the next 16 years drinking, doing drugs and wasting my life away because I thought I wasn’t worth it. I thought I needed to be ashamed and hide my pain. I can’t form any bonds with people to this day. “I’m now in my late 30s, and my daughter, dog and I are homeless, living out of my car. All because I can’t trust. The police, doctors, social workers should have kept me safe. I’ve done everything in my power to make sure my children don’t have to suffer or experience anything like I did. I’ve been sober and quit partying 8 years ago.” – My Indigenous Family History 1904-2021 by Jared Lowndes

In the bitter Facebook exchange that followed Lowndes death, Josie Patterson stated that the warrants were 8 years old, “None of the charges have been proven. Those are all alleged and always will be since he was murdered before he had a chance to defend himself …”

signs protesting Jared Lowndres death

Protest signs – photo courtesy Josie Patterson

Early Life

Lowndes family history starts an account of his Wet’suwet’en grandfather’s attempt to defend his property. A mining company “enlisted the help of the Supreme Court of Vancouver and the RCMP to steal my grandfather’s land” and were successful in 1907. His grandfather earned enough money to purchase the land in 1922. A subsequent clash with the Indian Agent and RCMP led to a 39 day face-off - at the end of which Lowndes grandfather was allowed to stay, but the property was designated reservation land.

The Wet’suwet’en Nation agreed that Lowndes could build on his grandfather’s land, but once again there were problems. He wrote about problems with “people stealing from our land, showing up all hours of the day and night, threatening us.” When the RCMP intervened, they “started hassling us.”

This was not the start of Lowndes struggles.

Justice for Jared poster

Poster courtesy Josie Patterson

He was 4-years-old when the Social workers and Vancouver Police took him away from mother and placed in foster care. She was 19. Lowndes returned, only to be removed again.

His account of the next nine years mentions numerous foster homes, group homes and assessment centres. Of the latter, Lowndes wrote:

“We were placed in a group compound, often 2-4 per room. We were never allowed outside or to leave unless directly accompanied by a staff. We attended school on the property.” “The staff would go on to violently abuse the children. I was personally hit if I talked back, if I didn’t eat, if I didn’t get out of bed exactly when told. I was locked in a cabinet for days at a time. I was sexually abused by the male doctor and a female coordinator. I saw children beaten in front of us to teach a lesson to the rest of us.” – My Indigenous Family History 1904-2021 by Jared Lowndes

In 1995, Lowndes was charged with assault, first in a group home and then a foster home. He wrote that he was defending himself from abuse. When he was released from jail, the following year, the ministry said they could no longer help Lowndes. That’s when he started drinking.

According to Lowndes mother, Laura Holland, he was a changed man by the time of his death. She told CBC news that he was a dedicated father to his two daughters, aged 6 and 13.

police dog Gator

Police dog Gator’s photo from the RCMP press release announcing his loss

Gator’s  funeral

The National Police Federation posted an invitation on Facebook to the police dog Gator’s memorial. :

“Please join us on Friday, July 9, by wearing red to recognize and remember PSD Gator for his bravery, sacrifice and to support his handler and others who loved and worked with Gator during this difficult time. PSD Gator was a partner, member, friend and mentor. Gator was killed on duty in Campbell River, British Columbia, earlier today while tracking a known suspect…”

Hundreds of Campbell River residents lined the streets to watch a vehicle procession, led by police cars with flashing lights, pass by.

Another Facebook post mentions the street-side memorial to Lowndes being taken down and replaced by one to the police dog.  

Lowndes’ friends and family find the attention that the RCMP and Campbell River community are giving Gator offensive.

Before and after photos of the street-side memorial to Jared Lowndes, which was torn down by people wishing to memorialize the police dog Gator

Street-side memorial to Jared Lowndes before it was taken down – adapted from Facebook post

Going forward

Director McDonald said, “There have been some facts discussed in both the media and social media. There may come a point when we may be prepared to release some information in relation to some of the discussion that has been ongoing, so long as we’re satisfied that it will not have any impact on our ongoing investigation. At this point: we are still early on; We are still assessing evidence; we are still speaking to witnesses.”

How outside media is reporting this story:

Top photo credit: Photo of the protest about Jared Lowndes death – photo courtesy Josie Patterson

This post was published on July 15th and additional material added July 16, 2020.

This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative