Alleged La Loche shooter sent chilling chat messages about killing two people before heading to school

“Right now, La Loche is devastated,” said an emotional First Nation chief after at least four people — including two relatives of the alleged shooter along with a 23-year-old teacher — were killed, two were in critical condition and a suspect was taken into custody after a daytime shooting at the community school in the northern Saskatchewan town.

Marie Janvier was one of the victims of a shooting in La Loche, Saskatchewan on Jan. 22, 2016

“The community usually pulls together really strong in times like this,” said Clearwater River Dene Nation Chief Teddy Clark on Friday.

“Both Clearwater and La Loche, a lot of people are in shock. This is something that you only see on TV most of the time.”

Marie Janvier, a 23-year-old teacher, was shot dead by the alleged gunman after shooting two of his relatives, family said.

Janvier’s family said they could not believe that Marie had been killed.

“Her smile will light up the room on the darkest day,” said Sandie Janvier in a Facebook message, calling her the “sweetest caring person … We lost a loving sister today.”

Cousin Patrick Wagenaar said he could not have imagined something like that taking place.

“You’d never expect things like that to happen so close to home,” he said.

“She was a really good storyteller, she was really charming. She had really good attention to detail,” he said, fighting back tears.

Those in the remote Dene town of about 3,000 people on the eastern shore of Lac La Loche were left searching for answers and details but found themselves with only more questions in the wake of the shooting, approximately six hours north of Saskatoon.

A student who was just returning from lunch when shots were fired at the school 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 the Dene building of La Loche Community 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.”

Desjarlais-Thomas forwarded to The Canadian Press a screenshot of a chilling exchange that had taken place on social media a short time before the shooting between a young male and his friends.

“Just killed 2 ppl,” wrote the young male. “Bout to shoot ip the school.”

“Why?” asked a friend. “Why?”

RCMP were on the scene after a shooting at La Loche Community School on Jan. 22, 2016

Desjarlais-Thomas, a Grade 10 student, said he believes one of his friends might be among the dead.

“I saw him fall down. That’s when I started running.” he said. “I didn’t want to look back.”

RCMP confirmed that one person was in custody. Mayor Janvier said he did not know anything about the suspect. According to The Canadian Press, the community’s fire chief said a boy with a gun was in custody.

RCMP confirmed five deaths early in the day but at a press conference Friday night in Regina, Chief Supt. Maureen Levy said confirmed deaths at that point were at four. “With a tragedy such as this, a lot of information going back and forth,” she said when noting the error.

Levy believed victims in the shooting were airlifted to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon. More investigators and specialists were on-site in La Loche. “We have additional resources in the community right now, given the tragedy,” said Levy.

Around 1 p.m., La Loche RCMP received a complaint about an active shooter in the community, RCMP said in a release. Officer responded to the Dene building of La Loche Community School and “immediately began searching for the suspect.” At 1:47 p.m., a male was taken into custody outside the school, at which time a firearm was seized, said police. La Loche Community School is for pre-Kindergarten to Grade 12, and houses approximately 900 students in two buildings.

“It’s just tragic and everybody’s running around,” said Janvier, adding that to his understanding the shooting at the school took place when an individual walked in and “opened fire in the building.”

RCMP are on the scene after a school shooting at La Loche Community School on Friday, January 22nd, 2016.

According to multiple sources, there was a shooting incident at a residence in the community, followed by a shooting at the school soon after. RCMP said investigators on Friday afternoon and into the evening were at two locations: a residence in the 300 block of Dene Crescent and the Dene building.

“These are active investigation areas and the public is asked to not attend these locations,” said RCMP in a news release.

STARS Ambulance was dispatched from Saskatoon. In addition to local RCMP, emergency services were also on the scene.

Police said they have not yet confirmed the identities of those killed. RCMP also did not have information “about the type or extent” of injuries suffered by those who were taken to hospital. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in a nationally-televised address, said two people were critically injured.

The great-aunt of one of those injured said her great-nephew was rushed to Saskatoon hospital, and that relatives were coming from afar to La Loche to show their support.

“Everyone is in shock,” said Yvette Fontaine, who said her great-nephew was shot but managed to run out of the school.

Despite earlier reports to the contrary, RCMP said the lockdown remained in place at both the Dene building and the elementary school as a precaution, though police wanted “to emphasize to the community that there is no risk to public safety at this time.”

Trudeau, addressing the country in his nationally-televised speech, said he wanted to “express both our sympathy and support” for those impacted and in the community and also thanked first responders, who he said “acted swiftly and bravely.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacts to the shooting in the community school in La Loche, as he attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 22, 2016.

According to Trudeau, the RCMP commissioner confirmed to him the death toll and that a suspect was in custody, bringing the situation “under control.”

School coordinator Norma Janvier said she was in her office when she heard gunshots.

“I didn’t know what was going on … I thought the kids were just playing around or something, like a locker slamming and stuff,” she said.

She was going to check on the noise, but a teacher closed her office door, so Janvier stayed inside until she was told it was safe to leave.

“All I heard was cops running around in the school.”

Trudeau, during his press conference from the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, said “we all grieve with and stand with the community of La Loche and all of Saskatchewan on this terrible, tragic day.

“Obviously this is every parent’s worst nightmare,” he added. “All of us across this country’s hearts are going out to the families and to the whole community.”

Premier Brad Wall said words “cannot express my shock and sorrow at the horrific events” in La Loche.

“My thoughts and prayers are with all the victims, their families and friends and all the people of the community. Thank you to the RCMP and all the emergency personnel who responded quickly to the shootings. Saskatchewan Education and Social Services will be available to provide all necessary crisis support and counselling services to the school and the community,” said Wall in a statement.

Georgina Jolibois, NDP MP for Desnethe-Missinippi-Churchill River, said she was heartbroken over the news.

“As the former mayor of La Loche, I am shocked and saddened by the shooting in the Dene Building at the La Loche Community School in my riding. The shooting hits close to home for me as my family members attend the school,” she said in a statement.

“The community of La Loche is strong and closely knit. We have faced adversity in the past and we will persevere. My thoughts and prayers are with all students, staff and families affected as we begin on the path of healing as a community.”

Opposition Leader Cam Broten said on Twitter that he was “shocked and saddened by news of a school shooting in La Loche. My thoughts are with all students, staff and families affected.”

In 2015, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix examined high suicide rates and mental health challenges faced by those living in the community

The annual suicide rate in the Keewatin Yatthe Regional Health Authority is the highest of any health authority in Saskatchewan. The area, which includes La Loche, Buffalo Narrows, Ile a la Crosse and other communities in the province’s northwest, averaged 43.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 people between 2008 and 2012. That’s more than triple the average annual provincial rate of 12.7 suicide deaths per 100,000. The average annual suicide rates in the Saskatoon and Regina Qu’Appelle health authorities were 10.2 and 11.5 per 100,000 people respectively for the same time frame.


Clark, who was in Saskatoon at the time of the incident but talked with people in the La Loche community, was heading back immediately to assemble the council and support the community in any way he could. He said he had already heard from chiefs at all levels of government, who pledged their support.

A crisis team, made of elders and professionals, was being dispatched from the Meadow Lake Tribal Council to “help the community pull together,” said Clark.

Like so many others, Athabasca MLA Buckley Belanger used the word “devastating.” He said now is “the time for prayers. It’s just been a shock, no question about that.

“People don’t realize how many good people are up there, building up the students, building up the school. Good people, good staff, then this happens, and all that good work is undone. But they’ll keep on working, I think,” he said.

Belanger said he was in Saskatoon when he heard about the incident, and was still dealing with conflicting reports. He said he planned to drive to his home in Ile-a-la-Crosse Friday and then to La Loche Saturday morning to “see how I can help.”

Choking on his words, Belanger said, “This is a tough one. A real tough one. It’s changed lives, this. Changed lives for sure.”


Here is a list of some other school shootings in Canada:

Ecole Polytechnique, Montreal:On Dec. 6, 1989, 25-year-old Marc Lepine shot more than two dozen people, killing 14 women before killing himself.


Dawson College, Laval, Que: On Sept. 13, 2006, 18-year-old Anastasia De Sousa was killed and 20 others were hurt when gunman Kimveer Gill, 25, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon. Gill was killed in a police gunfight.


W.C. Jeffreys Collegiate Institute, Toronto: On May, 23, 2007, 15-year-old Jordan Manners is found in a hallway with single gunshot wound to the chest. He later dies in hospital. Two teens were charged with first-degree-murder and were later acquitted.


Les Racines de vie Montessori, Gatineau, Que.: On April 5, 2013, two men die during a shooting at the school’s daycare. The shooter is identified as Robert Charron. Thirty-eight-year-old Neil Galliou is killed before Charron takes his own life. Charron told staff to take the 53 children to safety before he opened fire.


W.R. Myers High: Taber, Alta.: On April 28, 1999, a 14-year-old Grade 9 students shoots three students, killing 17-year-old Jason Lang before he is arrested.

La Loche - A collection of candles from a vigil near where RCMP are on the scene after a school shooting at La Loche Community School on Friday, January 22nd, 2016.



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