RCMP says that four people are dead after a deadly shooting spree at a school and in a northern Saskatchewan community.
The suspect, a male, is in custody.
“Our investigation is at the beginning,” Chief Supt. Maureen Levy, a spokesperson for RCMP Saskatchewan, told a press conference in Regina, Sask.
Media asked if the shooter was related to any of the victims, but the RCMP would not comment. The RCMP would also not confirm reports that the shooter had discussed his plans online.
Kevin Janvier, acting mayor of La Loche, told CKBI radio that his daughter, Marie, was one of the victims, though it wasn't immediately clear if she had died or was injured.
Norma Janvier, a community coordinator at the school, was a colleague of victim Marie Janvier, and told the Star she was a teacher's assistant in her early 20s.
"I’m still in a little bit of shock. I can’t even think clearly right now," Norma Janvier told the Toronto Star. The two were not closely related.
The RCMP were notified of the shooting shortly after 1 p.m. and a male was taken into custody before 2 p.m. Police are investigating two crime scenes, one at Dene Crescent and one at the La Loche Community School in the Dene high school building.
Tanisha Lemaigre, 19, said her cousin was shot in the arm and is now in hospital. She said she and her cousin are close.
“My grandma keeps having anxiety attacks from what happened…It’s sad day,” Lemaigre told the Star Friday.
La Loche RCMP said the shooting happened at La Loche Community School in the Dene high school building.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed his condolences from Switzerland, Trudeau said the alleged shooter is in custody.
“Obviously this is every parent's worst nightmare,” the prime minister said. “All of us across this country's hearts are going out to the families and to the whole community.”
Premier Brad Wall issued a statement expressing shock and sorrow at what he called “the horrific events.”
The Dene high school, which houses students from Grades 7 to 12, was in lockdown for most of the day, as was nearby Ducharme Elementary School. The lockdown has been lifted and RCMP says there is no longer a threat to public safety.
Bernice Duhaime, the manager at a general store about one kilometre from the school, said such an act of violence was rare in La Loche and people in town were “pretty nervous.”
“We're pretty scared,” she said. “It's a lot of sadness and a lot of shock.”
She said the streets of the town had been quiet all day but by 4 p.m. the police were allowing students to leave the school.
“We're all trying to return to some sort of normal,” she said.
Mounties are also asking parents and residents to stay away because the situation is active and ongoing.
“There is currently an emergency occurring at the Dene Building and we are asking the public to stay away while the matter is resolved by the RCMP,” the school said on its Facebook page.
“The elementary school is also under a lock down which will not be lifted until we hear that it is safe from the La Loche RCMP. We will not be allowing anyone in or out until we have a clear idea of what is going on.”
Saskatchewan’s air ambulance tweeted at about 2:30 p.m. that it was heading to La Loche to respond to an “emergency.” Ken Ladouceur, the division’s director of education, told CTV he received a call from the principal of La Loche Community School shortly after 1 p.m.
U.S. Ambassador Bruce Heyman expressed his condolences to the victims and their families.
“We have experienced similar tragedies far too often in the United States and understand all too well the heartache and sadness that result from such a horrific event,” Heyman said in a statement.
La Loche is a remote Dene community of about 3,000 people on the eastern shore of Lac La Loche in the northern boreal forest.
– With files from The Canadian Press, Ben Spurr and the Associated Press