Mounties say they arrested a suspect near Duncan close to an hour later
It was a brazen shooting in the lobby of the Howard Johnson hotel.
It happened at 3:20 Wednesday morning when most guests were sleeping.
"Sure is shocking," said Tyler Armstrong after checking out of the hotel this morning. "I didn't hear anything."
"I got up to go to Tim Horton's this morning and we weren't allowed in the lobby," said Craig Sales, who was also staying there.
Mounties arrived on scene after getting a 9-1-1 call about shots fired.
They found a shooting victim lying dead on the floor of the lobby and the hunt for a suspect began.
"Within an hour a vehicle was stopped in the jurisdiction of North Cowichan/Duncan and the male was taken into custody," said Cst. Gary O'Brien of Nanaimo RCMP. "His vehicle is seized. That male is currently in custody he hasn't been charged with anything at this point."
The Operations Manager says the hotel's doors are normally locked between 10 pm 7 pm but for some reason they were weren't when the victim and alleged gun man entered the lobby and the shooting occurred.
O'Brien says it's too early to say if the shooting was gang related.
"It's only speculation that would certainly form part of the investigation. we're also looking at what relationship if any existed between the deceased and the individual who shot him."
Mounties seized a car, with Alberta plates, from the hotel's parking lot.
A parking pass on the front dash suggests the driver was staying there.
Meanwhile, forensic investigators were on scene throughout the morning.
The hotel video surveillance system is expected to have captured at least some of what happened.
Police say there is no danger to the public.
"In my memory I can't recall when there was a targeted shooting like this," says O'Brien.
Mounties say this is the first homicide in Nanaimo since two men were shot and killed at the Western Forest Products mill in 2014.
In this case RCMP won't say how many shots were fired though there were at least 2 bullet cases on the ground.