A 49-year-old man is dead after being shot by Calgary police in the parking lot of a northwest strip mall on Tuesday. The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), tasked with overseeing police shootings, is investigating the incident and said it has asked Calgary police to withhold specific details of the incident until it can interview witnesses.

According to police, the incident occurred shortly after 4 p.m. in the 5000 block of 16th Avenue N.W. in Montgomery.  Officers with the break-and-enter unit were moving in on a vehicle to make an arrest when the driver put it in reverse and police opened fire, it is alleged.

One person is in custody, but no charges have been laid.

A clearly frustrated James Hardy, Calgary Police Superintendent, repeatedly told reporters at an evening news conference that he could not speak to the specifics of the incident, but connected the incident to an increase in drug-related car thefts.

“As you are well aware, in what seems to be a nightly occurrence, the high frequency of crimes like stolen vehicles give rise to serious officer and public safety concerns,” he said in a prepared statement before taking questions.

“This year alone the service has responded to well over 4,000 stolen vehicle occurrences, which represent a 44 per cent increase over a five year average.”

Hardy later said that a lot of crime in the city is “being fuelled through the opiate issue that we have now.”

As early as a year ago, he said cocaine, heroin and meth were the street drugs of choice, but that now fentanyl dominates.

“You have these stolen vehicles and when these individuals are on opiates, they press hard,” he said, referring to fentanyl users.

Hardy said he couldn’t respond directly to questions as to whether the public was in danger from this daytime shooting, referring again to ASIRT restrictions.

“Our officers are highly trained,” he said. “They’re facing these kinds of situations all the time and we’re asking them to make decisions in split-second situations and I trust those officers with what they do.”

No officers were injured.  ASIRT is investigating the shooting and is asking for anyone who witnessed and/or recorded the incident to contact them at 403-592-4306.