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Split-second flinch saves Vancouver man from gunshot

Constable Brian Montague of the Vancouver Police Department addresses the media in Vancouver, B.C. on April 10, 2013.

John Morstad/The Globe and Mail

Dave Shumka had just left a comedy show and was standing on the street chatting with a friend when he spied a man walking in his direction. Something appeared to be tucked under his shirt.

The situation seemed off. A police car had raced by seconds earlier with its siren on, and Mr. Shumka thought the man walking up to him might have stolen something.

The police car with the blaring siren turned out to be unrelated, but foreshadowed the many more that would arrive on the stretch of Main Street soon after.

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The item the man had under his shirt was a gun, and in what seemed like a flash, it was pointed at Mr. Shumka's head.

"He walked right up to me and said, 'Hey, how's it going?'" Mr. Shumka recalls, before adding, "and took what turned out to be a gun out and put it up to my head, point blank."

Mr. Shumka said he did not immediately realize the item was a gun, but flinched when it neared his head. That split-second movement could have saved his life.

"Another inch and I'd be …" he said, before trailing off.

Mr. Shumka, a local comedian who also works for the CBC, shared his harrowing tale this week, writing his account on his web site and giving a first-person account on Stop Podcasting Yourself, the comedy podcast he co-hosts with Graham Clark.

He declined to be interviewed, but said on the podcast he ran from the scene immediately after the first bullet was fired last week.

He heard two more shots as he ran, and returned when he realized he was not being chased.

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"When I returned to the scene, I found everybody standing around in shock, and the shooter lying on the ground," he wrote. "He had shot himself, and he later died. Everyone else is physically okay. I was grazed on the top of my head by the first bullet … and I still have a ringing in my ears."

Mr. Shumka included an image of the wound on his website.

He said he considers himself very lucky not only to have survived, but also that he did not see the man shoot himself, as so many others did.

Mr. Shumka said he and his friend bought lottery tickets the day after the shooting.

Constable Brian Montague, a Vancouver police spokesman, said several 911 calls came in at about 11:30 p.m. on July 4.

He said the man pulled out the handgun and shot at two people before turning the gun on himself.

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Constable Montague said when officers arrived, the gunman, a 34-year-old Vancouver resident, was critically injured from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

He was taken to hospital and pronounced dead.

Constable Montague said a man who was grazed by the bullet was treated at the scene.

Mr. Shumka said the shooter had mental health issues, but Constable Montague said police are still investigating that aspect.

He said police are also attempting to determine the man's motive, and how he acquired the weapon.

"We still want to know why this happened," the spokesman said.

Nothing indicates the men were targeted, and they were not connected to the suspect.

The gunman's name has not been released. Constable Montague said the department identifies individuals only when they are charged with a criminal offence, or are victims of a homicide.

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Based in Vancouver, Sunny has been with The Globe and Mail since November, 2010. More

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