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Updated Wed. Dec. 19 2007 8:03 PM ET
CTV News Staff
A former soldier fatally shot by Winnipeg police may have been carrying a firearm replica called an “airsoft gun,” the man’s wife told CTV News.
Roy Thomas Bell, 44, died after a confrontation with police Monday night.
Bell served with the Canadian Forces for more than 20 years, working as a postal clerk, until he was given a medical discharge in 2004.
His wife said Wednesday he had been angry at a friend who joked that Bell was retired and didn’t have to bother getting up early for work.
She said he obsessed over the remark for two days. After she left for work on Monday, he apparently sent threatening text messages to the friend.
He then dressed in his heavy camouflage clothes that he normally wore, she said, removed his airsoft gun from its case and headed to the friend’s apartment.
Airsoft guns fire small plastic pellets and are used in a game similar to paintball. Some are designed to look like actual weapons.
Police confronted Bell outside the friend’s apartment and ordered him to drop a weapon — although it’s unclear whether that weapon was the airsoft gun. Bell refused and officers used a Taser to subdue him, but it didn’t and they opened fire.
There is some indication Bell’s friend tried to speak to police before the fatal shooting.
“He came down and thought he could talk (Bell) down,” another friend, Kimberly McClelland, told CTV News. “We thought he wanted to tell police the gun wasn’t real, but the police couldn’t take a chance.”
Bell’s family and friends said police should not be blamed for his death.
The former soldier was being treated for anxiety and an anger disorder, and was taking anti-depressants, according to his wife.
With a report by CTV Winnipeg’s Kelly Dehn