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Surrey drop-in centre shooting reaps 8-year sentence

The court heard James Craig MacIsaac, 38, has an 'extensive' criminal record including convictions related to firearms and violence
Surrey provincial courthouse.

James Craig MacIsaac, 38, has been sentenced to eight years in prison after pleading guilty to charges related to a shooting at a Surrey drop-in centre in 2022 and later threatening a constable during a roadside sobriety check.

MacIsaac's remaining sentence actually works out to five years and 114 days after Surrey provincial court Judge Mark Jetté gave him credit for time served. 

He pleaded guilty to aggravated assault, firing a prohibited or restricted handgun for the Jan. 19, 2022 shooting and threatening the police officer during an attempted arrest on Jan. 29, 2022. He was originally charged with nine counts including attempted murder. The Crown sought a sentence of eight to 10 years in prison and the defence argued for five to seven years.

The court heard that MacIsaac exited a car, walked up to the front door of the drop-in centre – a warming place for homeless people at King George Boulevard and 107 Avenue – and shot a man who came to the door, with the bullet grazing the victim before hitting a woman who was sitting inside.

Not realizing she'd been shot, the woman called 911 and spoke to dispatch. It was 3:15 a.m. 

"She felt a warm liquid on her back, put her hand up the back of her shirt, and saw that there was blood on her hand," Jetté noted in his reasons for sentence.

Both were taken to hospital by ambulance. The woman needed stitches to close an entrance wound near the front of her armpit and exit wound on her back. "A small bone between her shoulders was shattered," the judge noted. The man sustained an abrasion across his nose that ran diagonally across the left side of his face with a "much larger abrasion-like injury on the left side of his neck below his ear."

The court heard MacIsaac has an "extensive" criminal record including convictions related to firearms and violence.

He jogged back to the sedan and as it took off, Jetté noted, "someone came out of the general area of the warming centre, pointed a long gun or shotgun towards the car, and fired two shots. That person has not been identified."

On Jan. 29, 2022 police in Surrey doing a roadside check stopped a taxi, spotted MacIsaac in the backseat and recognized him from a press release concerning a warrant for his arrest. MacIsaac bailed out, tripped and fell, got up again and with arms and hands held out as he ran off yelled "I will shoot you" at the constable.

His defence lawyer told the judge MacIsaac had witnessed a shooting days prior and on the night of this shooting before the court he'd gone to the warming centre to buy drugs. "He looked through the window when he arrived in the area of the front door, thought he saw the shooter from the earlier incident, and fired out of fear," Jetté recounted. "He does not say that this person was armed, or that he fired in self-defence. Counsel submits that this version of the event is mitigating, and reduces Mr. MacIsaac's moral blameworthiness, at least to some extent.

"Even taking Mr. MacIsaac's explanation into account, I find it does not reduce his moral culpability," Jetté decided. "On his version, two innocent bystanders were shot, not one. I am not sure how that helps him. It certainly does not render his conduct any less serious or dangerous."

At best, the judge said, MacIsaac can say he didn't have a "settled plan" to shoot anyone. "But he did arrive there with a loaded handgun. Then he used it."



About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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