Nine people are dead, including two children and the gunman in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in the worst mass murder in the city’s history. It all started on Monday evening, Dec. 29, 2014 and ended Tuesday morning Dec. 30, and resulted in eight people, six adults, four females, two males and two children being killed in two locations, while the suspect committed suicide in a third. Police believe it was a case of “domestic violence.” Immediately after the news was made public makeshift memorials were being put up at the homes of those murdered, while the mayors of the cities affected and Alberta’s premier also issued condolence statements. The last mass murder on this scale in Edmonton was in 1956 when six people were killed.
Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht spoke at an afternoon press conference. Chief Knecht declared that “It is a tragic day for Edmonton and our thoughts go out to the community as we all come to terms with the senseless mass murder of eight people.” The chief also revealed the motive of the murders, “This series of events are not believed to be random acts and there is no risk to the broader public. And these events do not appear to be gang-related but rather tragic incidents of domestic violence.” Chief Knecht explained that mental health issues where partly to blame, “According to family, the male seemed depressed and overly emotional. The family was concerned that the male may be suicidal.”
Police first responded to a call about a “weapons complaint,” but when they arrived at the South Edmonton home at 6:53 p.m. they found a 30-year-old woman shot dead. They then received a call about a depressed suicidal man in a home at North Edmonton, but when police arrived, he was not there. Police later returned to the home at 12:23 a.m. as is the custom to check on the suicidal, only to find a grisly discovery, seven people dead, an entire family, “three women, two men and two children – a boy and a girl,” in the two storey house.
Another call about the suspect’s vehicle brought the police at 2:20 a.m. to a third location “a restaurant in Fort Saskatchewan.” The suspect had crashed his Black Mercedes SUV outside the restaurant and into a Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) truck, while it appeared the doors to the restaurant had also been crashed into. Police closed off the restaurant’s street by morning to protect the public. When police were finally able to enter the VN Express restaurant Tuesday morning 8:45 a.m. they found the suspect, who already committed suicide.
The mayors of Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan and the province’s premier issued statements about the tragedy. Alberta Premier Jim Prentice’s statement stated; “I wish to express my sorrow at the tragic incident which claimed lives in Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan today, and my appreciation to the first responses involved.” The Mayor of Edmonton Don Iveson released his statements through Twitter, writing in two posts “Like all Edmontonians, I am deeply saddened to learn of this tragedy. Our thoughts are with the extended family. (1/2) #yegcc” and “I appreciate the very heavy burden @edmontonpolice and RCMP members are carrying, working together to investigate these deaths. (2/2) #yegcc.”
The Mayor of Fort Saskatchewan Gale Katchur issued a formal statement, which read, “I, like many others, have watched with sadness as the news of today’s tragic loss of nine lives unfolded. My heart goes out to all friends and family who have been impacted by the deaths and I have nothing but appreciation and gratitude for the officers involved in the incident. This is not a story about place, this is a story about people. The City of Fort Saskatchewan puts our faith in the EPS and RCMP to do their job in these very sad circumstances.” “I wish to express my sorrow at the tragic incident which claimed lives in Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan today, and my appreciation to the first responses involved.”
From the statements of the neighbors from the streets where the murders took place, the suspect was divorced from the woman who lived in the North Edmonton home, with her mother and the couple’s two children, all were victims in the incident. Neighbors had witnessed fighting from inside the home on numerous occasions, and once saw them fighting on the street, one neighbor commented, “We knew the ex-husband didn’t live there anymore.” At the site of the first murder in Haddow in South Edmonton, three children lived in that house, the children were in the house when their mother was murdered, but they were not harmed, they were the only ones in a home who the suspect did not harm.
The complete Edmonton Police statement is as follows:
The Edmonton Police Service continues to investigate two homicide scenes involving multiple deaths.
Southwest Division members responded to a weapon’s complaint around 6:52 p.m., Monday, Dec. 29, 2014, near Haswell Court and 16 Avenue. Upon arrival, members discovered a deceased middle-aged female.
Later Monday evening, North Division patrol officers responded to a suspicious circumstances call at an address near 83 Street and 180 Avenue at approximately 8:30 p.m., returning to the same address at approximately midnight, following a secondary check-on-welfare call involving a suicidal male.
At that time, officers were unable to locate the suicidal male in question, but upon entry, discovered the bodies of seven deceased individuals; three adult females, two adult males and two children, one female and one male.
Homicide detectives, with the assistance of Ft. Saskatchewan RCMP, subsequently located a deceased male at a restaurant in that city, located approximately 40 kms northeast of Edmonton, who matched the description of the suicidal male allegedly associated with the second homicide scene at 83 Street and 180 Avenue.
The identities of the deceased are not being released at this time, until cause of deaths can be determined, identities can be confirmed and next of kin can be notified.
Further details will be released to media when they become available.
Bonnie K. Goodman is the Editor of the Academic Buzz Network, a series of political, academic & education blogs which includes History Musings: History, News & Politics. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies, both from McGill University, and has done graduate work in Jewish history at Concordia University as part of the MA in Judaic Studies program. She covers US, Canadian, Israeli and international news, anything from crime to human interest stories and everything in between.