Wednesday, December 19 CBC News
A man who was shot and killed by Winnipeg police on Monday was a former member of the Canadian Forces who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.
Police confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Roy Thomas Bell, 44, was the person who confronted police officers as they responded to a 911 call about a man threatening residents at an apartment block in Winnipeg's West Broadway neighbourhood.
Post-traumatic stress disorder, an anxiety disorder in which people feel intense, prolonged feelings of fright and distress for no clear reason, is caused by a traumatic event involving threatened death or serious injury to oneself.
Matthew Gray, a retired soldier, told CBC News that Bell, known to many as Tom, had long struggled with mental-health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, following a training deployment overseas as part of his military service.
"Roy Bell was struggling — as many other soldiers I know — to try and get assistance for his PTSD, trying to get understanding as to why he got it and what it's doing to him, trying to get an understanding of the system and how it employs the help that we get, and, you know, it's the same thing with a lot of soldiers," Gray said.
Military officials confirmed Wednesday that Bell joined the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry in 1981, rose to the rank of corporal and served as a postal clerk.
He was released from military service in 2004, after 23 years. Officials would not comment on why he left the service, but described his death as "tragic."
Other friends, who asked not to be identified, said Bell was taking medication related to his mental-health problems, but his dosage had been changed last week and he hadn't been acting like himself.
They believe that's why he started making threats to a friend and co-worker Monday night, shortly before police were called to intervene.
'Suicide by cop'?
At least one witness who lived near the apartment where the shooting took place told CBC News he heard someone tell police to shoot him before he heard gunshots.
Winnipeg police spokesman Const. Pat Chabidon said officers object to the term "suicide by cop," but he didn't deny that's what may have happened in this case.
"You have to realize what officers go through in a situation like this," he said. "To then term it 'suicide by cop'? Suicide is the taking of one's own life by your own hand. It's so hurtful."
Police said the officers encountered the man just before 11 p.m. local time, and saw he was armed with a bat and a gun. Officers used a stun gun on the man, but it failed to subdue him, police said.
The threat escalated and the man was shot, police said. He was taken to hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.
Bell's friends said he was the kind of guy who would drive across the city to boost someone's car, and he will be missed.
The officers involved were not injured and have been placed on administrative leave.
The police homicide unit has taken over the investigation. A provincial inquest will also be carried out, as required by Manitoba law.
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