"She's like a Disney princess."
Those were words that friends used to describe Stacey Perry – a 29-year-old mother who was shot and killed by Calgary police on Christmas morning.
"(She) speaks softly, wears dresses all the time, loves life (and) is so vibrant and full of life," said Perry's friend Carolyn Rennie, holding back emotions.
"Every time I talk to him, he has a big heart," Rennie said in an interview Friday with Postmedia. "He cares deeply about others."
Rennie met Perry last June at an addiction treatment center in Salmon Arm, B.C – a city where Perry would later live.
"(When I met him) he experienced many challenges and we will support the group together," Rennie said.
"Then, after he stayed, he decided to move here," recalled Rennie. "He got a place here. Her daughter (who is nine years old) returned to Edmonton, so she would visit her when she could. I linked it (Perry) to a job at an insurance company here and everything went well for four or five months. "
Perry's shooting is being investigated by Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT). After wild driving in Calgary, sources said Perry's car pinned a female officer to another vehicle before a 10-year veteran of the Calgary Police Service fired his gun, killing Perry.
Vincent Church, a former girlfriend who stays close to Perry, calls him a passionate and caring young woman who deals with alcohol and substance addiction.
"He is a well-meaning person (who) combats some addictions and will often call and seek guidance or advice," said Church, who met Perry four years ago at Fort McMurray.
"Stacey always has a good heart. It was difficult for him, but he did his best … He tried very hard to get past all that. "
The church said after Perry left the rehabilitation facility, he continued academic studies in the medical office administration.
Perry is a woman who will panic when addicted to getting the best from her, Church said, adding she believed that was what might have caused Perry's flight from the police, which eventually led to his death.
"The panic can take several forms; it will cause him to run away from a situation, "said Church. "That won't happen often, but that panic will happen."
"(The day he was shot) he might have a bad time, or a bad episode or someone threaten him or do something to him to make him panic, "he said. "It might give him a fight or flight reflex and when he gets depressed, he doesn't always make the best decisions."
Right after midnight on Christmas morning, Perry drives erratically near 9th Avenue and the Blackfoot Trail S.E. in the gray Honda sedan with the letter B.C. number plate. Officers tried to stop his vehicle on suspicion that driving was interrupted.
However, he failed to pull over. Driving through the northwest of the city, the police said he was running a red light with fluctuating speeds.
Two more traffic stops were also attempted, unsuccessful, around 12:30 a.m. Police stopped following the vehicle about 10 minutes later, citing "security reasons."
Less than two hours later, the police received a call about a driver who "turned on the red light and did a U-turn" in the northeastern community of Falconridge. The clerk found the same gray Honda sedan from before, pushed down the wrong road to the oncoming traffic along northeast Calgary.
The police tried to stop the controlled sedan, which entered McKnight Boulevard from the Stoney Trail, by placing police vehicles in front of the sedan and additional police vehicles on each side, and behind, the car.
When the officers started to get out of their vehicles, "the sedan was driven," according to ASIRT, in a statement released Thursday.
Rennie said he did not know what had happened to Perry on the morning he was killed.
"What I do know is that whatever happens that night will be entirely due to fear and not at all something he will do in a conscious, sane and safe mind," Rennie said.
"He is not a bad person who runs on the streets. People think of people who have addicted problems like bad people and we are just normal people who have bad things happening to us," he said.
"I hope for anyone who struggles, they talk and acknowledge what is happening. That is the only way we can get help. "
On Thursday, Les Kaminski, president of the Calgary Police Association, called the incident a tragic situation.
"We are very, very lucky – very lucky – that we did not have a police officer who was injured or even killed during the incident," he said.
"It was a high risk … very emotional, a high crisis incident and very lucky we did not have a dead police officer. In my 33 years, (this) the first time we experienced a critical incident like this on Christmas Day – it was heartbreaking several levels. "
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @zjlaing
For those who struggle with addiction, help in Calgary can be found through:
Alberta Health Services addiction channel: 1-866-332-2322
Addiction to Alberta Health Services and mental health web pages
Addiction care assistance channel in Canada
Aventa, a live-in addiction treatment service for women
Fresh Start Recovery, a treatment center for men