The man who shot and wounded a Canadian border guard Tuesday before taking his own life was identified Wednesday as Andrew M. Crews, a 32-year-old who recently moved from Bremerton to Seattle.
Andrew M. Crews sent a cryptic text message to his mother Monday that read, “I love you so much. I’m sorry,” his stepfather said.
The next day, police in Canada say Crews, 32, drove a Ford van to the busy Peace Arch border crossing in Blaine and shot an unarmed border guard in the neck before killing himself with the same gun. Crews, a tattoo artist who had recently moved to North Seattle, died at the scene.
The British Columbia homicide-investigation team handling the probe hasn’t released a motive for the shooting, but it’s being treated as an attempted murder.
The wounded guard, Officer Lori Bowcock, remained hospitalized Wednesday at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster. “She is in stable condition and is expected to make a full recovery,” Roslyn MacVicar, the Canada Border Services Agency’s Pacific regional director, said in statement. “Her mother and brothers are by her side.”
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Crews’ stepfather, Danny Lupinek, reached by phone in Las Vegas, said the family is at a loss to explain what happened over the last days of Crews’ life that would have led him to the border and to open fire on a guard and then take his own life.
After receiving the unusual text message Monday, his family tried without success to reach Crews, he said.
“We understand that there can be times when a person feels great despair, but we wish, of course, he had talked to us. We would have flown him home,” Lupinek said.
As far as his family knew, Crews wasn’t depressed or in trouble. He didn’t have addictions or mental-health issues, he said.
“He was always upbeat,” Lupinek said.
Lupinek said agents with U.S. Homeland Security came to the family’s home Wednesday and told them about the shooting. They also said they believe the border guard was accidentally shot, he said.
Crews, one of three siblings, was a talented musician who sang vocals and played guitar with a number of Seattle-area groups, Lupinek said. He was also a professional tattoo artist who had lived in Bremerton for some time before recently moving to a North Seattle apartment, Lupinek said.
He worked at a Seattle tattoo parlor, Under the Needle, where employees refused to comment Wednesday evening.
There are conflicting reports whether Bowcock, the wounded border guard, was hit by the same bullet Crews used to kill himself, and that the bullet hit the guard “accidentally.”
Jason McMichael, the first national vice president of the Customs and Immigration Union, which represents Canada’s Front-Line Customs and Immigration Officers, said Wednesday the gunman fired two shots, one at Bowcock and the other to take his own life.
“The first shot was pointed directly at the officer,” McMichael said. “The second shot was the self-inflicted gunshot wound that caused the shooter’s death.”
Earlier Wednesday, other union officials said they believed Bowcock was struck by a stray bullet as Crews killed himself. McMichael called that “erroneous information.”
The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team in British Columbia issued a statement that said Crews deliberately fired at Bowcock before killing himself. However, the statement also said there was no evidence to indicate she was specifically targeted.
Bowcock worked as a civilian dispatcher at police headquarters in London, Ontario, until last spring. As a new border guard, she had not yet completed training that would allow her to carry a firearm, the Border Services Agency said.
Immediately after the shooting investigators blocked off the area around Bowcock’s booth with yellow crime-scene tape and examined the white van driven by Crews, which sat with its back doors open revealing a mattress inside. Police said the van was registered to a man in Bremerton.
The border crossing was opened to southbound traffic Wednesday afternoon, but it remained closed to northbound traffic until Thursday morning.
Seattle police searched Crews’ North Seattle apartment Wednesday, but declined further comment. Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel said it is department policy not to discuss another agency’s investigation.
Two sisters who live next door to Crews’ ground-floor apartment at Jackson Greens, a complex that backs onto the Jackson Park Golf Course in North Seattle, said two men with tattoos moved in about two weeks ago. The women, who declined to give their names, described the roommates as “motorbike, rocker-ish guys” who introduced themselves and seemed friendly.
They said one of the roommates and a friend left the apartment two or three hours after Seattle police officers showed up.
Christine Clarridge: 206-464-8983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Seattle Times staff reporters Sara Jean Green, Jennifer Sullivan, Alexa Vaughn and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from The Associated Press.