“Just killed 2 ppl. Bout to shoot up the school.”
Those were the words posted to social media as a 17-year-old suspect allegedly opened fire on schoolmates and teachers, killing four and critically wounding at least two others in Canada Friday. Noel Desjarlais-Thomas, 16, sent local media a screenshot of the exchange between the suspected gunman and several friends. "Why?" asked a friend, according to Saskatoon Starphoenix, a local newspaper.
The shooting "shattered" the tight-knit community of about 3,000, acting Mayor Kevin Janvier said during a press conference. La Loche is a Saskatchewan community made up of an aboriginal group, called the Dene, that has had a difficult few years and has struggled with a suicide rate that is three times the national average.
Our country's heart is breaking. We grieve with - and stand with - the people of La Loche today. Full statement: https://t.co/tWQAaewlX1
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 23, 2016
"As a Dene community, we've been through some horrific incidents and … we're very resilient. We come together and heal," Georgina Joliboisy, a member of Parliament for the region, said.
The victims of Friday's shooting have been identified as Marie Janvier and Adam Wood, who were both teachers, and brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine. Janvier, 21, was the daughter of the acting mayor.
The Chief of the Federation of Saskatchewen Indian Nations said the shooting Friday was the worst ever experienced by La Loche, the Independent reported.
“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,” Cameron said. “Right now we're just in a state of shock and disbelief.”
The shooting drew outpourings of support and sympathy from across Canada, where school shootings remain rare. The country's deadliest shooting rampage occurred in 1989, at Montreal's École Polytechnique. In that shooting, Marc Lepine entered a classroom, told men to leave and then opened fire on the women, killing at least 14 before turning the gun on himself.
U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman offered his condolences, adding that America has "far too often" been struck by similar tragedies.