From gunshots fired at a police station to a burning vehicle and a fire set at a pharmacy, multiple videos helped build the timeline for an Oliver man’s actions on one night in 2021, but it was an ill-timed thirst that brought him down.
Steven Marlo Gallagher was found guilty of breaking into the pharmacy on Fairview Road in Oliver and then setting it on fire.
After a three-day trial with testimony from multiple police officers and a lengthy analysis of surveillance footage from the night of May 15, 2021, the Justice presiding over the case ruled that it was clear beyond a reasonable doubt the man captured on camera and involved in the night’s events was Gallagher.
The series of events began at about 1:30 a.m. on May 15, when the officers responded to reports of shots being fired from a property on Sandpoint Road, which was the residence of Gallagher.
Gallagher was there, along with a number of other individuals, socializing and drinking. After a conversation and a brief tour of the house, one officer started to lay out the history of complaints that had drawn visits by Mounties already, at which point Gallagher began to get agitated.
With no sign of firearms or signs of gunshots, the officers left around 2:15 a.m. to set up about a half kilometre away in the shadows. Two trucks left and took off to race around the Osoyoos Indian Bands land, the RCMP waiting until everything was quiet before eventually leaving.
Then, at about 4 a.m., as Officer Paul Symons was putting his gear away, a series of loud booms rang out.
“We were looking at each other thinking, ‘Is that gunfire?’ because it wasn’t a sharp crack like a .22,” said Symons. “I exit the side door facing Airport Road, and as I come out, this green Ford Ranger pickup, we just sort of catch it out of the corner of our eye as it’s speeding away northbound back into town.”
Several vehicles were seen by Symons on Gallagher’s property, including one particular dark green pickup. Symons noticed it in particular because it has an extra cab and was a two-wheel drive, as well as being a dark green shade. The other officer remembered it for a distinctive wave-like decal on it, a feature of a limited factory run.
The same pickup which was later spotted on video cameras owned by the Osoyoos Indian Band, just down the road from Gallagher’s residence.
When the officers exited the detachment, they were unable to locate any casings or shotgun shells, but they did smell gunpowder in the air. At that point, they weren’t sure whether it may be fireworks instead of gunfire.
Officers who came in for the day shift several hours later would eventually find that one of the police cars had three bullet holes in the back rear bumper. One bullet was recovered along with several fragments.
Minutes later, across from the detachment volunteer firefighters were starting to arrive at the hall to respond to a call for a pickup truck on fire two blocks away downtown. It was the same dark green Ford Ranger with the extra cab.
Shells were later recovered from inside the vehicle similar to those fired at the police station.
About 100 metres away, a fire was also burning at the pharmacy. Surveillance footage showed a man taking a rock to smash the glass door before heading inside, then once inside crouching down next to a drinks cooler to start a fire in some sundresses for sale.
Multiple different surveillance cameras, including one outside the local building supply store, one covering the front of the pharmacy and another in Triangle Park, and a fourth that was located inside the pharmacy.
It was the last camera that provided the nail in the coffin for identifying Gallagher. On his way out of the store, he stopped at the front door to steal a drink from the cooler in perfect view of the camera.
“His features are impossible to discern as he approaches the front door, however the temptation of grabbing a refreshing post-arson drink seems too great,” said the Justice. “He turns to rob the drinks cooler and steals a beverage, with that turn, he provides a decent view of his face from eyes to chin straight on as well as a half-profile.”
The justice noted that Gallagher possesses many notable physical characteristics, including facial features and both body shape and posture.
Gallagher will return to court at a later date to be sentenced. He is also currently facing other charges in unrelated incidents, including sentencing for for a firearm case from April, 2021.