Cop fires 19 shots, supect unharmed

Police investigate a chain of robberies that resulted in a chase and apprehension in London, Ont.,...

Police investigate a chain of robberies that resulted in a chase and apprehension in London, Ont., Wednesday, August 12, 2009.. The suspect's vehicle crashed into a light standard and was finally arrested in the back yard of a neighbouring home. (Sun Media/Susan Bradnam)

JOE BELANGER

, Last Updated: 1:57 AM ET

The "rare" hail of gunfire that erupted in a quiet east London neighbourhood during the arrest of a robbery spree suspect early Wednesday came from one police officer's handgun.

Nineteen shots -- more than a full clip of ammo -- were fired by the officer after the suspect appeared to be pointing a gun, police said. The bullets hit at least three homes, although police said they're still investigating. No bullets hit the suspect.

Last year, no London officer fired at any suspect.

No one was hurt in Wednesday's dramatics. The suspect surrendered moments later and no gun was found.

"At the end of the day, we're just happy no one -- no member of the public, nor the suspect, nor a police officer -- was injured," Deputy Police chief Ian Peer said yesterday.

Only the second shooting by city police this year, Peer said it appears the officer -- a five-year veteran of the department -- was justified in using lethal force in a "dynamic" and "rare" occurrence.

"The suspect presented himself in a position as if holding a gun," said Peer, adding police had also received reports that the suspect had a weapon. "It's a low-light situation and the officer sees the suspect present himself as if he has a gun and the officer fired his gun.

"There are a lot of facts the officer has to take into consideration in an extremely short period of time. Those were the conditions, and the officer did what he's trained to do. There's nothing I can see now to suggest anything wrong was done."

The officer involved used a standard-issue Glock handgun. One clip holds 15 bullets, plus one in the firing chamber, meaning the officer would have had to reload.

Yesterday, police laid more charges against the 37-year-old London man accused of robbing two gas bars and a Subway store in a crime spree late Tuesday and early Wednesday.

The shooting rocked the Fairmount subdivision at 4:20 a.m. when a suspect crashed an SUV -- reported stolen Tuesday -- into a light standard on Tweedsmuir Ave. during a police chase.

The suspect jumped from the SUV and ran through several rear yards and tried to enter homes before surrendering.

Police said a man robbed a Subway store at Hamilton Rd. and Highbury Ave. at about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, a gas bar on Highbury Ave. and Cheapside St. shortly after 1 a.m. and a 7-Eleven gas bar-convenience store shortly after 4 a.m.

In each case, the suspect was seen fleeing in a dark-coloured SUV, which a police officer spotted on Highbury Ave. at Magee St. around 4:20 a.m., sparking the chase through winding streets in Fairmount.

The officer who fired the shots was the first on the scene, followed moments later by several other officers.

Paul Wayne O'Connell, 37, of London, is charged with four counts of robbery, three counts of wearing a disguise, dangerous driving, possession of stolen property, obstructing police and failing to stop for police.

He remains in custody, scheduled to return to court Aug. 25

It was the second shooting by London police officers this year. On Jan. 15, Joseph Barnes, 26, was shot twice by police at an Oakville Ave. apartment complex when he pointed a replica gun at police officers who'd gone there to arrest him for a violent robbery a week earlier. The officers were cleared of any wrongdoing.

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SHOOTING RULES

Lethal force is allowed when an officer's life, or the lives of others, is threatened.

Officers must report even drawing a gun.

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BY THE NUMBERS

It's rare for police officers to fire their weapons.

0: Number of people London police fired their guns at last year.

54: Number of times London police used their guns to euthanize injured animals, mostly deer hit by cars.

194: Number of times police drew their firearms, including 62 times against armed suspects and 71 times when a suspect was thought to be armed.


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