By ROB GILLIES, Associated Press
TORONTO (AP) — A gunman opened fire at a high school and a home Friday in an aboriginal community in Western Canada, leaving four dead including a teacher and wounding at least two people, officials and family members said.
The grade 7-to-12 La Loche Community School is in the remote Dene aboriginal community of La Loche in the western Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Supt. Maureen Levy said the gunman was arrested outside the school but declined to release details about him. She said there were two crime scenes, one a home and the other the school.
Kevin Janvier told The Associated Press that his 23-year-old daughter Marie, a teacher, was shot dead by the gunman. He said police told him the gunmen first shot two of his siblings before killing Janvier’s daughter.
“He shot two of his brothers at his home and made his way to the school,” he said. “I’m just so sad.”
A government official, however, said the gunman shot two boys who are related but not his brothers. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly about the details.
Marie was Janvier’s only child. He said he didn’t know if the shooter knew his daughter. Kevin Janvier and Deegan Park, Marie Janvier’s boyfriend, told the AP they were anxious for police to release her body.
“I still haven’t seen her body and it’s breaking my heart knowing that she gonna spend the night on the hard floor,” Park said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said from Davos, Switzerland that a suspect was in custody and described the two injuries as critical.
“This is every parent’s worst nightmare,” he said. “The community is reeling.”
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 La Loche’s junior and senior high school. “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 school’s Facebook page said it would remain on lockdown until the Royal Canadian Police resolve the matter. It asked the public to stay away.
“Words cannot express my shock and sorrow at the horrific events today in La Loche. My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims, their families and friends and all the people of the community,” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said.
Shootings at schools or on university campuses are rare in Canada. However, the country’s bloodiest shooting occurred 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.
Bobby Cameron, Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, said the shooting Friday was the worst tragedy to ever hit the community. 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 graduations at the school 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.
Associated Press writer Charmaine Noronha in Toronto contributed to this report.
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