A young man who shot and killed four people at a school and in a home in northern Saskatchewan will be sentenced as an adult.
Judge Janet McIvor made her ruling Friday in La Loche, the remote community where the shooting happened in January 2016.
The young man was just shy of his 18th birthday when he killed two teenage brothers in their home before he went to the school where he gunned down a teacher and a teacher’s aide. Seven others were injured.
He pleaded guilty in October 2016 to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.
McIvor said there was evidence that the shooter was at a high risk to reoffend and suggested a youth sentence would not be appropriate because of the profound impact the shooting has had on the community.
The judge noted the “incredible level of violence” in both the shooting of the brothers and at the school.
“He ambushed and murdered both of them,” McIvor said of brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine.
She also said the school shooting was “planned and calculated” and pointed out that the killer had shot teacher Adam Wood twice at close range.
McIvor’s decision was relayed to gathered media by a single reporter allowed into the courtroom in La Loche. Others were barred access.
She said while the shooter did appear to feel remorse for killing the two brothers, he did not show the same regret for the victims at the school.
“For the most part he appeared unaffected” by the victim impact statements presented at his sentencing hearing last year, the judge said.
The Crown and many of the victims had asked that the teen be sentenced as an adult.
The prosecution noted the teen researched school shootings and guns online. He also researched what it felt like to kill someone.
But his defence lawyer, Aaron Fox, sought a youth sentence, because his client suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome and has cognitive problems that have affected his maturity.
Little explanation has been given for the motive behind the shooting.
The youth said he didn’t know what he was thinking when he pulled the trigger.
As an adult, he faces an automatic life sentence without eligibility for parole for at least 10 years, though he could get credit for time already served.
An agreed statement of facts read during the sentencing hearing detailed the shooter’s murderous path from a home in La Loche to the community’s high school.
The Fontaine brothers, who had just played video games with the killer the night before, were gunned down first. Dayne, 17, pleaded for his life and said “I don’t want to die” before he was shot 11 times, including twice in the head. Drayden, 13, was shot twice in the head after running into the shooter outside the house and being led inside.
The shooter then posted messages online: “Just killed 2 ppl,” and “Bout to shoot ip the school.”
Surveillance footage captured his frightening walk through the halls, his shotgun raised, as students and staff ran in fear. Wood managed to call 911 before being shot in the torso and then once again while on the ground. He was pronounced dead in hospital.
Teacher’s aide Marie Janvier was shot when she ran to get help for a substitute teacher who was wounded when the shooter fired through the window of a classroom door. A photo showed Janvier’s body lying face down in a hallway, a pool of blood under her face and chest.
When police arrived, the shooter ran into a women’s washroom where he put down his weapon and gave himself up.
The shooter talked with a friend in September 2015 about shooting up the school, but the friend didn’t take him seriously.
He researched school shootings and firearms on the Internet many times. There were suggestions in the aftermath of the shooting that the teen had been bullied at school, but he told police that wasn’t the case.
He told officers that he regretted shooting the two brothers, that they weren’t part of the plan. Asked what his plan was, he responded: “Go to the school and shoot the f—-ing kids.” Asked who he was targeting, he said: “Nobody.”
Fox said there wasn’t a simple explanation for what happened, noting his client has cognitive, social and developmental issues. “There’s not a one-sentence answer to that question of why,” Fox said.
Many teachers, students and community members took the stand during the sentencing hearing to talk about how the shooting affected them.
Teacher Peter Bradley, Wood’s housemate, said he is often overwhelmed with grief and guilt.
“I would often ask the question: ‘Why not me?’” he said. “I felt guilty because I walked out of the school alive that day.”
Assistant principal Phyllis Longobardi, who was shot but survived, said the teen needed to be sentenced as an adult..
“He and he alone needs to own these crimes,” she told the hearing. “He and he alone is responsible for these acts. Not bullying, not suicide, not poverty, not teachers, not friends or family pulled the trigger.”
Alicia Fontaine, Dayne and Drayden’s mother, told court that the shooter called her two days later to apologize.
“I may be angry, but I’m not angry at him,” she said. “It is true, my whole world is gone, but I know my babies are in a place where there is no pain. I have forgiven you.”
The shooter’s mother told court that she had also forgiven her son.
“I am not a bad mother or person. If I knew and seen the signs that he was struggling in life, I could have stopped all of this from happening,” she said. “Sometimes, as parents, we are unaware of the struggles that our children have.”
The shooter himself apologized during the sentencing hearing.
He said if he could talk to Wood, he would tell him he was sorry.
“I would say to him: ‘I didn’t really know you, but I heard you were a good person, a kind person … and I’m sorry I shot you.’”
The teen also apologized to Marie Janvier’s mother.
“I’m sorry I ruined your life and took your daughter away. All she wanted to do was help students.”
Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press