By Gene Johnson Associated Press
SEATTLE — An unarmed Canadian border guard shot in her booth at a busy U.S.-Canada crossing in Blaine was on her way to a full recovery Wednesday as investigators worked to determine why a 32-year-old tattoo artist from Washington state fired at her before committing suicide.
Andrew Michael Crews of Seattle was driving a van into Canada when he shot Officer Lori Bowcock in the neck Tuesday afternoon at a border crossing at Blaine, then turned the gun on himself, authorities said. Crews died at the scene.
His stepfather, Danny Lupinek of Henderson, Nev., said Wednesday that Crews texted his mother hours before the shooting to say he loved her — and was sorry.
Lupinek said Crews didn’t explain what he meant in his text, and the family was unable to reach him after that. He said Crews had given no indication he was upset or headed to Canada.
Meanwhile, investigators also tried to piece together a motive for Crews’ actions.
“The current evidence clearly indicates that prior to taking his own life, Mr. Crews deliberately fired at the victim,” said Superintendent Kevin Hackett of the British Columbia homicide investigative team handling the probe. “There is no evidence, however, to suggest the victim was specifically targeted.”
He did not elaborate.
Agents with Homeland Security Investigations were assisting British Columbia authorities by following leads on the U.S. side of the border, said Andrew Munoz, spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Bowcock remained hospitalized Wednesday in British Columbia.
“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 a statement. “Her mother and brothers are by her side.”
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 gun, the Border Services Agency said.
Crews had lived in the Bremerton area but recently moved to the Seattle area.
Friends said Crews had worked at a Lucky Boys tattoo parlor in Silverdale, near Bremerton, and Lupinek confirmed that his stepson had worked as a tattoo artist. Lucky Boys’ phone rang unanswered late Wednesday.
“He’s nice. He’s just really down to earth,” tattoo client Courtnee Riggs told KOMO-TV of Seattle. “He seemed normal and happy and liked punk rock. It’s just crazy.”
KING-TV reported Crews also had worked at Under the Needle Tattoo in Seattle. A man who answered the phone there declined to comment.
Immediately after the shooting, officers swarmed the scene and closed the Peace Arch border crossing as they interviewed witnesses and searched for clues. Investigators blocked off the area around Bowcock’s booth with yellow crime-scene tape and examined Crews’ white van, which sat with its back doors open revealing a mattress inside.
Kevin McAllister, assistant general manager at the Peace Portal Golf Course, which is adjacent to the border crossing, said an employee and several guests told him they had heard two shots fired.
The Peace Arch border about 100 miles north of Seattle is the third-busiest between the United States and Canada. Last month, it averaged 9,000 U.S.-bound cars a day, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Canadian officials reopened the crossing’s southbound lanes Wednesday afternoon. The northbound lanes were scheduled to reopen Thursday.
In the meantime, drivers were diverted to other crossings, including the nearby Pacific Highway crossing, said U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Mike Milne.
Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire said she spoke to British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and pledged the state’s cooperation and help in the investigation.
“This tragedy hits especially close to home, and reminds us all that our public safety officers put their lives on the line every day to protect the rest of us,” Gregoire said.
Her remarks were echoed by the president of the Canada Border Services Agency.
“This is a profound reminder of the risks that border services officers assume every day,” Luc Portelance said in a statement from Ottawa. “I know that the courage and dedication of our officers are second to none.”