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Gunman Kills 9, Himself Estranged Husband Guns Down Wife, Family In Vernon, B.C.

Sat., April 6, 1996

An estranged husband opened fire as his wife’s family prepared for a wedding Friday, killing her and eight others before fleeing to a motel and killing himself, police said.

The victims included the bride, who was to have been married today. Police say the gunman left a suicide note apologizing for the rampage, the second-deadliest in Canada’s history.

The groom learned of the massacre en route to the wedding in the 30,000-person city, in a quiet valley known for its orchards and vineyards about 185 miles northeast of Vancouver.

The gunman was the husband of the bride’s sister, police said. He shot most of the victims inside the home with a handgun, although one man was killed as he washed a car on the front driveway. His body lay there in a puddle of blood.

“I heard shots, a lady screaming, and then Pop! Pop!” neighbor Jeremy Pelletier said.

Two more people were wounded, an elderly woman and a 6-year-old girl. Both were in stable condition after surgery. Two other children at the home escaped injury.

The dead included the estranged wife, her four sisters, a brother, their mother and father, and a brother-in-law, said Joyce Langerak, a reporter for the Vernon Daily News.

Police sought a dark green mini-van that the gunman was supposed to have been driving. A similar car was found at a nearby motel, and the body of the gunman in a room inside.

His suicide note expressed regret for the shootings, but gave no reason for them, police said. His body was found with several weapons, and police said the slayings clearly were premeditated.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt in anybody’s mind as to what his intentions were,” said Sgt. Doug Hartl with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The estranged husband apparently carried two pistols and a rifle, Langerak said.

Globe Motel client Danny Britton said he heard a gunshot in a nearby room Friday, after hearing an argument there the night before.

The rampage was the second-worst murder in Canada’s history, exceeded only by the killings of 14 women at the Polytechnique engineering school at the University of Montreal. Gunman Marc Lepine shot and killed himself.


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