TORONTO – Police on Saturday charged a 17-year-old boy with four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder in a mass shooting at a school and home in an aboriginal community in western Canada, officials said.
Police said Saturday that the male suspect can’t be named under Canada’s Youth Criminal Justice Act. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Supt. Grant St. Germaine said nine people were shot in the school, two fatally – a teacher and a teacher’s aide. He said that seven people wounded in Friday’s shooting at the school are hospitalized.
Police said two brothers, 17-year-old Dayne Fountaine and 13-year-old Drayden, were shot dead in a home before the gunman headed to the grade 7-12 La Loche Community School.
The suspect was arrested at the school Friday afternoon. Police said they were not aware of a motive and declined to say what type of gun he used.
The school is in the remote Dene aboriginal community of La Loche in Saskatchewan Province. La Loche is a community of less than 3,000, in which just about everybody knows everybody else.
“This is a significant event for Canada,” St. Germaine said. “It’s a huge impact on the community of La Loche. It’s a part of changing times. We are seeing more violence.”
Shootings at schools or on university campuses are rare in Canada. However, the country’s bloodiest mass shooting occurred on Dec. 6, 1989, at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique, when Marc Lepine entered a college classroom at the engineering school, separated the men from the women, told the men to leave and opened fire, killing 14 women before killing himself.
The educational assistant killed at the Saskatchewan school was identified as 21-year-old Marie Janvier. Deegan Park, her boyfriend of three years, said he would have given up the rest of his life just to spend another year with her.
“I grew up not a good guy, but she turned me right,” Park said.
Kevin Janvier said his daughter was an only child.
A second victim was identified as Adam Wood, a new teacher at the school. His family in Ontario described him as an adventurer with a passion for life who made people laugh until their stomachs hurt.
A student who was just returning from lunch when the shots were fired Friday said his friends ran past him urging him to get out.
” ‘Run, bro, run!’ ” Noel Desjarlais-Thomas, 16, recalled his friends saying to him as they fled. ” ‘There’s a shotgun! There’s a shotgun!’ They were just yelling to me. And then I was hearing those shots too, so of course I started running.”
The RCMP said the first reports of shots being fired at the school came in around 1 p.m. Friday, and parents and residents were warned to stay away. A nearby elementary school was also placed on lockdown as a precaution.
Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, said the shooting Friday was the worst tragedy to ever hit the community of 3,000. The Dene are an aboriginal group who inhabit the northern parts of Canada.
“It’s not something you ever imagine happening here. The whole community, province and country has been affected and we will all go into mourning,” said Cameron, who attended the La Loche school’s graduation ceremony for the past few years. “Right now, we’re just in a state of shock and disbelief.”
U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman offered his condolences and noted the problem of school shootings in America.
“We have experienced similar tragedies far too often in the United States and understand all too well the heartache and sadness that result,” Heyman said.