Don Bennett, the Langley man believed to have died in a fiery confrontation with police on Friday, is remembered by his daughter, Nicky McIntosh, as a man who loved horses, a non-violent, kind person who did have mental health issues.
McIntosh, a Chilliwack resident, told the Langley Advance Times she went into shock when she learned a morning wellness check on her 66-year-old father had turned into a massive police response that ended with Bennett’s home, an RV on rented space in the 23500 block of 0 Avenue, destroyed by fire.
“I was in shock for the first 24 hours,” McIntosh said. “I didn’t know how to feel at that point. I took some time for me to tell my kids what was happening. And I’m still kind of in disbelief.”
She said the family was not told about the wellness check, nor the police standoff, until late that evening, and learned after the fact that the phone to her father had been disconnected at the request of police.
She said the last time she spoke to her father, she was urging him to get help for his mental health issues.
“The conversation was around him seeking some help around his mental health,” McIntosh recalled.
She didn’t go into detail, but stressed her father “definitely didn’t have a violent nature. This came as a surprise.”
McIntosh said the family has a lot of questions abut the way the matter was handled, beginning with why they weren’t contacted earlier.
“He also has three brothers and a sister who live in the Lower Mainland and any of us would have been on it,” McIntosh said. “We would have been down there if we had had a phone call that he needed to be checked on.”
As well, “was there a mental health or support worker or social worker on the scene? And how did it escalate so quickly?”
The incident is being investigated by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the civilian-led police oversight agency responsible for conducting investigations into police-officer-involved incidents of death or serious harm.
A B.C. RCMP statement said Langley officers were requested to check on the well-being of an individual “who was distraught and made concerning comments.”
When they reported shots being fired from inside the building, the Lower Mainland Integrated Emergency Response Team (IERT) attended “and attempted in various ways to communicate with the individual who had barricaded himself inside the building.”
“At approximately 10:40 p.m., a fire erupted and eventually engulfed the building. It is believed the individual did not exit the building and is believed to have perished in the fire.”
Two police vehicles used for containment were heavily damaged by the fire.
Police still at scene of fire in 23500 block of 0 Ave. Multiple units responded to the call Friday night. pic.twitter.com/T70AZywUeL— Langley Advance Times (@LangleyTimes) November 11, 2023