The man had tried to purchase airline tickets using a suspected stolen credit card.
Detective Short tried to persuade the suspect to put the gun down and surrender, but he would not.
Meanwhile, Constable Galbraith was still waiting outside and had no idea of the murders that had just occurred.
He glanced down at the suspect's revolver pointed at him, the chambers of the cylinder that he could see were empty.
February 9th, 1962
1601 W. Georgia St.
On the morning of February 9th, 1962, Vancouver Police Detective Larry Short of the Fraud squad, received a call from a clerk at a travel agency regarding a male registered at the Bayshore Hotel. The man had tried to purchase airline tickets using a suspected stolen credit card. Detective Short attended to the Bayshore Hotel with Constable Len Galbraith, to investigate. The two police officers discussed their strategy. They decided that since fraud suspects are not normally violent, that Constable Galbraith would wait in his police vehicle outside in case the suspect tried to escape, and that Detective Short would attend the room. Detective Short asked the assistant hotel manager Larry Kingston to go to the room with him, in case the door needed to be unlocked.
The suspect, Eric Lifton, opened the door when they knocked and they both entered the room. The suspect was very calm and co-operative. Detective Short sat in a chair and the suspect sat on the bed, Detective Short began to interview the suspect. Shortly thereafter, the witness, Paul Egley from the travel agency arrived and also entered the room. Egley started to use the phone to call his office when Detective Short stated: "He has a gun." The suspect had pulled a hidden .25 calibre pistol from the waistband of his pants and was pointing it at the three victims. Detective Short tried to persuade the suspect to put the gun down and surrender, but he would not. The suspect stated "I could do this" and pointed the gun at his own temple; just as quickly he said "or this" and pointed the gun at Detective Short, saying "I have done worse things." The suspect then ordered all three to lay down on the floor. Detective Short, fearing that he was about to be shot, reached for his .38 calibre service revolver.
The suspect saw Detective Short fumbling for something under his body. Surprised, he stated "what are you doing?" Detective Short drew his revolver and fired first. He fired one shot, from a prone position on the floor, less than six feet away, hitting the suspect in the stomach. However, the suspect was uninjured as a heavy coat, shirt button and belt buckle deflected the bullet. Before Detective Short could fire another shot, the suspect returned fire and quickly emptied his gun into all three victims lying on the floor. Just as fast as it started, the shooting ended and the room was silent. Detective Short and assistant hotel manager Larry Kingston both lay dying and Egley was wounded. The suspect then took Detective Short's revolver and ran out of the Hotel, through the lobby, into a taxi on Cardero Street. Meanwhile, Constable Galbraith was still waiting outside and had no idea of the murders that had just occurred. However, he recognized Lifton as he ran outside and got into a taxi. He flagged down the taxi, opened the door and spoke to Lifton. He told him that Detective Short wanted to interview him and Lifton replied that Detective Short had already interviewed him and told him he could go. Galbraith doubted this story and told Lifton to wait until he checked with Detective Short. At that point Lifton suddenly pulled out the hidden revolver and pointed it at Galbraith. Lifton ordered Constable Galbraith to get in the back of the taxi with him and he had no choice but to comply. Lifton told the taxi driver to take them to the airport and the taxi pulled ahead to leave. Lifton then told Galbraith "this is Detective Short's gun" and ordered him to hand over his revolver. Galbraith surmised that Detective Short must be dead. He only had one chance and that was to disarm the suspect and risk being shot or surely be shot later if he gave up his gun. He glanced down at the suspect's revolver pointed at him, the chambers of the cylinder that he could see were empty.
He took the chance that the gun was empty and suddenly slapped the gun from Lifton's hand and after a short struggle handcuffed him. Upon checking the gun after, he discovered that he had guessed correctly, it was empty.
Three months later, on May 10th, 1962, Eric Lifton was convicted and sentenced to hang on July 31st, 1962. Unfortunately, just four days before his execution his sentence was reduced to life in prison, by the Federal Justice Minister after consultation with the Prime Minister. Shortly thereafter the death sentence was abolished in Canada by an act of parliament. After several years in Kingston Penitentiary he was transferred to prison in the United States where he served the rest of his sentence. He obtained his Law Degree in prison and is now working as a lawyer somewhere in the United States.
Larry Short: policeman, father, husband, son. "We Shall Never Forget You."
All the stories and words on this site were written from the heart by Sgt. Steve Gibson. They are the result of research and interviews by Cst. Tod Catchpole with families and friends of the officers killed in the line of duty. For the sake of authenticity, the stories appear exactly as written. While the Vancouver Police Department stands by these stories, they may contain minor factual inaccuracies.
All information contained on this page: Copyright © Steve Gibson. May not be used without written permission.
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