A young man who traumatized the community of La Loche with a devastating school shooting will serve an adult sentence for his crimes.
The shooter was just weeks away from his 18th birthday on Jan. 22, 2016 when he killed brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine at their home. He then went to the Dene High School building where he gunned down 35-year-old teacher Adam Wood and 21-year-old teaching assistant Marie Janvier.
Seven others were injured at the school during the rampage, including former teacher Charlene Klyne, who was left partially blind from her wounds.
Now 20, the shooter pleaded guilty in October 2016 to four counts of first-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.
Justice Janet McIvor ruled Friday he would be sentenced as an adult.
During sentencing arguments, defence lawyer Aaron Fox argued his client’s cognitive and intellectual problems fuelled the frustration with school leading to the shooting spree.
Crown prosecutor Pouria Tabrizi-Reardigan pointed to evidence during closing arguments in October, which he said indicated the shooter had meticulously planned the shooting.
He noted the shooter had researched guns online and Googled “what does it feel like to kill someone?”
Victim impact statements also urged McIvor to consider an adult sentence.
“That’s the sentence that I was hoping for and most of the community was because of the nature of the incident,” said La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre outside court.
“We’re pleased with the decision. Still, we still have hurt people. Still have People that are angry and upset and something we got to live with.”
St. Pierre said the community needs to focus on young people, and providing much-needed physical outlets – not just television or video games.
“They need to be hands on. Physical activity has proven to be something that the kids need.”
As for what happens now, the mayor said it’s time for the community to look inward and build on the collective healing over the last two years.
“We are a strong community; we have a strong belief system. We’ve been faced with many tragedies and we’re still able to hold a smile, still being able to live,” he said.
“The world needs to learn from what transpired here, so we don’t have these tragedies continuing on.”
— Chris Vandenbreekel (@Vandecision) February 23, 2018
‘With a smile’
Main arguments for sentencing were heard in May 2017, when court viewed school security camera footage of the shooting and heard reports from professionals working with the teen in the aftermath.
The videos showed the shooter using a shotgun to blast through the front doors of the school, then alternating between walking and running as he shot at students and teachers.
He eventually ended up in a standoff with an RCMP officer, and surrendered himself for arrest.
A corrections worker who testified at the hearing told court the shooter would often talk about mass shootings “with a smile.”
As the gruesome details of the shooting were being shared, community leaders requested more social supports to help residents cope with the trauma.
A conviction for first-degree murder carries an automatic life sentence in Canada. Because the shooter is a youth being sentenced as an adult, he can apply for parole in 10 years as opposed to the usual 25.
At Friday’s hearing, Fox applied to maintain a publication ban on the shooter’s name. That issue will be addressed March 16 in Meadow Lake, where lawyers are also expected to discuss where the shooter will serve his sentence.
—With files from the Canadian Press.