According to reports, there was an altercation at a nearby home on Dene Road, La Loche, after which the suspect, an as-yet-unidentified young male, walked over to the school (which houses all grades, from nursery school to Grade 12) and began shooting once inside. A student reported cries of “Run, bro, run!” as teenagers fled before the violence.
The community has a population of less than 2,700, and there have been only half a dozen school shootings in Canadian history. The most recent school mass shooting was a decade ago, the Dawson College shooting by disgruntled goth Kimveer Gill. It sparked a national debate about assault rifles, sales of which nonetheless increased by 35% in the month after the shooting. In 2007 student Jordan Manners was shot and killed in his Toronto area school. Two men were later acquitted of the murder, which remains unsolved. That case resulted in changes to increase security within Toronto schools.
As the New York Times reports:
Canada’s deadliest school shooting occurred in 1989, when a man killed 13 students and wounded 13 others at École Polytechnique, an engineering school in Montreal, then killed himself. The deaths of those students, all women, led to the establishment of a national registry for rifles and other long guns. The Conservative government, which was defeated in October, dismantled that registry over the protests of many police forces and provincial governments.
Handguns remain tightly controlled in Canada, and ownership of military-style weapons is generally prohibited for individuals.
La Loche was recently in the news for what observers have characterised as an “epidemic” of suicides, and may have the highest suicide rate in Saskatchewan, a probable fallout effect of the damage inflicted by residential schools on generations of First Nations people.
From Davos, Switzerland, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has issued a statement of condolence and support to the community of La Loche and the victims.
And Brad wall, the premier of Saskatchewan, has posted his remarks on Facebook.
Two people reportedly remain in critical condition in the hospital. Four are confirmed dead by the RCMP, although original reports claimed there were five fatalities. The suspect was taken into custody within an hour of the event.
“Right now, La Loche is devastated,” said an emotional First Nation chief after at least five people were killed and a suspect was taken into custody after a daytime shooting at the community school in the northern Saskatchewan community.
A spontaneous memorial is going on now: