Kevin and Richard Wheeler. Photo from Facebook Credit: Facebook

The family of Richard Kenneth Wheeler, the 60-year-old man shot to death by the RCMP in Eastern Passage last week, is pushing back against the police narrative of the killing — saying he was holding a pellet gun and it wasn’t pointed at officers.

Wheeler’s obituary, posted Sunday, said he “loved being with his friends and family.”

He would be the first one to lend a helping hand and would give the shirt off of his back for anyone in need. He was always up for a good time and made himself well known anywhere he went, from the race tracks to the rinks, he was there with a timmies in hand supporting his children.  He loved hunting, fishing, long drives, animals and gardening to name a few.  There wasn’t another person like Richard.

RCMP officers shot Wheeler outside his mother’s home on Howard Avenue in Eastern Passage early Thursday evening, July 9.

In a news release, the Mounties said they were responding to “a call of an armed man who was uttering threats.”

“When police arrived, they located the man, a 60-year-old from Eastern Passage, armed with a handgun outside the residence. The man did not respond to officers’ directions,” the release said.

“After a short time, the man raised his handgun towards the responding officers. Responding officers discharged their firearms.”

Wheeler’s son and daughter, Kevin and Katelyn, both posted on Facebook on Sunday:

Thank you everyone for your love and support during this very difficult time for our family. To say this has been extremely overwhelming and shocking would be an understatement. We would just like to clarify a few misleading and inaccurate statements that have been released by the media about our Dad.

Dad was sitting outside on the steps with a pellet gun in his hand pointing it towards the ground, not the police. The police did not try to negotiate with him at all or use any other avenues to resolve the situation. They asked him to “drop the gun” then immediately shot him 4 times.

We have yet to receive a full police report as it is now a murder investigation. Our Dad was not trying to harm anyone and had no intentions of dying that horrific day.

Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) is investigating the shooting. Director Felix Cacchione said in an interview with the Halifax Examiner that he doesn’t know what kind of weapon Wheeler was holding.

“The investigation just started, so I really don’t have a lot of information and I won’t have a lot of information until I meet with the investigator who’s been busy trying to get statements from various witnesses,” Cacchione said.

Cacchione did not characterize the investigation as a “murder investigation.”

“We’re investigating a fatality caused at the hands of a police officer or police officers,” he said.

“I don’t know how many were on scene or how many weapons, if there was more than one weapon discharged, I don’t have that information.”

As for communication with the family, Cacchione said he’d have no contact with them till the investigation is complete, but SIRT’s investigator may interview them.

SIRT has three months after the conclusion of its investigation to file a public summary report.

Kevin Wheeler did not respond to a Facebook message requesting an interview. RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jennifer Clarke did not respond to a voicemail requesting an interview.

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Zane Woodford is the Halifax Examiner’s municipal reporter. He covers Halifax City Hall and contributes to our ongoing PRICED OUT housing series. Twitter @zwoodford

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  1. Today’s pellet guns are not the children’s pellet guns from the 1950s : I have publicly complained that Bass Pro Shop flyers are currently advertising a pellet gun with 1200 fps velocity equal to a .22 rifle firing ‘shorts’!!

    Other pellet guns are exact copies of famous pistols and sub machine guns. Hold those in bad light and why wouldn’t cops think they are real?

    I agree that most times the police should back off rather than shoot.

    But the fact remains, it is deadly stupid to hold any gun-like item near a house – please gun-owners, keep it in its case until you reach a firing range or hunting grounds….