The announcer at the Williams Lake Stampede is being credited with the safe and orderly evacuation of the packed grandstand after a double shooting on Sunday afternoon.
Kevin Li, of Burnaby, was travelling with his family when they decided to buy tickets to the last day of the stampede — held for the first time since 2019.
Li said that at around 3:30 p.m. as the final bull rider was preparing to leave the gates on the final event of the stampede he noticed people starting to turn around and look toward the entrance to the stands at the back of the structure.
“People were looking around and then more people started to look and then we heard ‘get down, gunshots, gunshots,’ ” said Li, who was at the front of the stands.
Li said the announcer immediately turned his attention from the bull rider and calmly asked the several hundred people in the stands to evacuate into the arena.
He was quick enough also to realize those entrances were locked and took control of the ground staff, directing them to unlock the gates.
“He was surprisingly fast,” Li said. “Everybody cleared out safely, there was no panic, he did an amazing job.”
In video footage taken from the scene, the announcer can be heard saying “we’re not sure what has happened, just keep following the exit instructions.”
The announcer gave a special message to mobility-impaired patrons and asked people to stay clear of emergency vehicles.
RCMP spokesman Sgt. Kris Clark said police were called to the stampede at 3:37 p.m. by multiple people with reports of shots being fired.
“Two people suffering from unspecified injuries have been taken to a local area hospital and one suspect is in custody,” Clark said.
“Preliminary information suggests that this incident was targeted and no further risk remains to the public.”
Clark asked anyone with video of the incident to contact the Williams Lake RCMP at 250-392-6211.