BLAINE - A female Canadian customs officer was shot at the Peace Arch crossing Tuesday, Oct. 16, according to Canadian police.
The Canada Border Services Agency officer was in a booth when she was shot in the "neck area" by a man driving a northbound white van with Washington plates, said Surrey Royal Canadian Mounted Police Cpl. Bert Paquet at a press conference.
Police believe the driver - the lone occupant of the van - then shot himself in the head. He died at the scene.
Despite her gunshot wound, the woman was breathing when she was airlifted to a Canadian hospital, Paquet said. Police declined to release her age or how much experience she had in the CBSA.
No update on the officer's condition was available Tuesday evening.
Paquet confirmed the white van had Washington plates. Canadian police were trying to determine if the gunman owned the vehicle and what led up to the shooting. Police didn't know if the victim knew the shooter.
The shooting in British Columbia halted traffic at the Peace Arch-Pacific crossing on Interstate 5. Northbound border traffic was being rerouted to the Pacific Highway truck crossing, according to Blaine police.
Drivers heading north were advised to use that crossing or the ones at Lynden or Sumas. State Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kris Olsen said it would be up to Canadian border officials to determine when the Peace Arch crossing - the busiest of all four in Whatcom County - would reopen.
"We're telling people they obviously need to use other routes to get across the border," she said.
Jason McMichael, first national vice-president of the Customs and Immigration Union, told The Province newspaper in Vancouver he believed it is the first time that a CBSA member has been shot on duty.
According to ScanBC, a Twitter account that monitors frequencies used by emergency personnel, the suspect in the shooting was driving a white Ford Econovan registered to a man in Bremerton. Police had not determined where the driver was from at the time of the press conference.
Paquet wouldn't say if border agents or police fired any weapons in response to the shooting.
The Peace Arch crossing is the third busiest port of entry on the northern border.
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