September 21, 2010
By Dianne Wood Record staff
KITCHENER A Waterloo regional police officer fired three shots at Mark Hillier after the disturbed man came out his front door pointing a gun last year.
“Shoot me. Shoot me,’’ Hillier yelled.
Under the circumstances, Sgt. Steve Dalrymple didn’t hesitate. But none of his shots found their mark, Kitchener’s mental health court heard Tuesday.
Hillier, who had been suicidal that day, was very much alive.
He pleaded guilty to possessing an imitation firearm for a dangerous purpose and uttering threats.
It was 2:50 a.m. on Oct. 4, 2009, when Hillier called a distress line saying he was going to gas himself in his garage, said prosecutor Lynette Fritzley.
Waterloo regional police were called. Five officers headed to Hillier’s Arnold Street home in Kitchener.
A pickup truck was running in the driveway. A hose attached to the exhaust led to the garage.
Hillier, who had been cut off disability benefits, was confrontational. He warned police to get the SWAT team because they were going to need it. He was swearing and yelling as officers approached the house. Dalrymple heard the sound of a handgun racking in the garage, court heard.
Hillier then came out the front door with the gun pointed at officers.
After the three shots missed him, Hillier went back inside. He yelled that he’d cut the gas lines and was going to “blow up the neighbourhood,” Fritzley said.
Officers smelled gas and called in police negotiators. Hillier refused to come out until they located a nurse he asked to talk to.
In a search of his home later, police found a replica handgun, a replica magazine with six bullets, and a pellet rifle.
The gas line had been disconnected from the hot water heater in the basement.
Hillier was admitted to hospital.
Police said his gun was almost identical to a Colt semi-automatic pistol. But lawyer Steve Gehl scoffed at that.
“You couldn’t fire it even if it was real,” he said.
Gehl also said Hillier had natural gas which doesn’t light with a match. He said Hillier is a gas fitter by trade.
The 48-year-old man had been suffering from mental health problems for several years, Gehl said. He wasn’t properly diagnosed and anti depressant medication wasn’t working.
He was eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, a difficult disorder to diagnose and treat.
Hillier’s actions that day were “a real suicide attempt,’’ Gehl said. “It was part of his mental deterioration.’’
He has stabilized since finding a doctor to treat his illness and provide appropriate medication.
Gehl asked for a conditional discharge, which would leave Hillier with no criminal record.
But the prosecutor said that was contrary to the public interest. “I’ve met police officers who had to kill people,” Fritzley said. “They’re not the same after.
“This came very close to what happened that night.”
She said police handled the incident “very well. Because of that, Mr. Hillier is here today.”
She said Hillier put members of the public at risk. “Bullets were flying because of what he did.”
She argued for a conditional sentence of six to nine months, a curfew and continued monitoring.
Justice Margaret Woolcott wanted more time to think about her sentence, which she will impose on Sept. 29.