Suspect in bear shooting charged 

A 23-year-old male has been charged in connection with the shooting death of a young black bear near Whistler Secondary School on May 8.

Andrew Robertson, a West Vancouver resident, was charged with the Criminal Code offence of careless use of a firearm during a scheduled appearance at North Vancouver Provincial Court on May 28, 20 days after first being arrested.

The RCMP previously reported that he could also face a Criminal Code charge of unsafe storage of ammunition, as well as three more charges under the Wildlife Act: hunting during a closed season, discharging a firearm in a no shooting area, and hunting without a licence. However thus far, Robertson has only had one charge laid against him.

Staff Sergeant Steve Leclair of the Whistler RCMP said the length of time it has taken to identify the suspect may have to do with Crown lawyers reviewing the information and deciding what charges should be laid.

“They have to determine what charges are going to be appropriate,” he said. “It's not necessarily the case that the police will always issue a press release until somebody's charged after Crown's gone through the charge approval process.”

The incident occurred at about 8:30 a.m. May 8 as staff and students were arriving at Whistler Secondary School. A witness saw a bear, which had been hanging out in a wetland near the school for some time, and soon after heard what she thought were two gunshots.

The witness then saw a male getting into a vehicle while holding what she perceived to be a shotgun. The witness took down the vehicle’s licence plate number and police made an arrest within 15 minutes of the report.

A quantity of ammunition was found in the suspect’s vehicle and a police dog from Squamish was used to search the school grounds in an effort to locate the shotgun.

The RCMP have not been able to retrieve the shotgun to date and Robertson has not been cooperative in helping them find it, according to   Leclair.

“If he (knows where it is) he’s not telling us,” Leclair said. “We’d like to wrap that portion of the investigation up as well but unfortunately we have not located it and we haven’t had any cooperation from the accused in the matter.”

Sgt. Steve Wright, also of the Whistler RCMP, warned at the time of the shooting that if people see black bears that they should not feed them.

Some students at Whistler Secondary School were believed to have thrown apple cores to the bear, according to bear researcher Michael Allen. However, the school principal did not confirm that this occurred.

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