MONTREAL, Dec 31 – Police in western Canada were investigating Wednesday the “senseless mass murder” of six adults and two children, who were apparently slain by a depressed man who later killed himself.
Police Chief Rod Knecht said killings — the worst ever in Edmonton — were “planned and deliberate” and apparently were carried out during a domestic dispute.
The killings began late Monday in the southern part of Edmonton, a city of nearly one million people in Alberta province, where a man shot to death a woman in her 30s, Knecht said.
The man then headed to a residence in the north of the city, where he killed another seven people — three women, two men, a girl and a boy.
Alerted by reports of a disturbance, police went Monday initially to a home in Edmonton where they discovered the body of the first female victim.
They went later that evening to investigate reports of a “suicidal male” at a house in the north of the city.
An initial visit to the house showed nothing that appeared out of the ordinary, but when police returned a few hours later and entered the home, they discovered the bodies of the seven murder victims.
The body of the suspected killer, an apparent suicide, was found early Tuesday in a Vietnamese restaurant in Fort Saskatchewan, a northeastern suburb of Edmonton.
Authorities indicated that the suspect “had a business interest” in the restaurant where his body was found.
The names and ages of the victims and their killer were not immediately released.
Knecht said the suspect had a criminal record dating back to 1987 of sexual assault and violence, and was in deep financial distress.
A woman told the Edmonton Journal newspaper that she had heard noises Monday outside the restaurant.
She looked and saw several police officers, one of whom yelled through a megaphone for someone in the restaurant to “come out with your hands up!”.
Detectives went on to find a dead man inside and quickly identified him as the suspected killer.
Knecht stressed that the public was not at any risk.
“This series of events are not believed to be random acts,” he said at a news conference.
“And these events do not appear to be gang-related, but rather tragic incidents of domestic violence.”
The police chief added that “our thoughts go out to the community… with this senseless mass murder.”
The killings were the worst ever in Edmonton, where six people were slain in a tragic incident in 1956.
Mass killings and gun crime are relatively rare in Canada compared to the neighboring United States, where gun ownership is also much more widespread.