MEADOW LAKE, Sask. — An assistant principal shot at a school in northern Saskatchewan says the teenage gunman must be sentenced as an adult because he alone chose to pull the trigger.
The teen committed adult crimes and should do adult time, Phyllis Longobardi said Wednesday in an emotional victim impact statement at a sentencing hearing in Meadow Lake.
Longobardi was one of 11 people shot when gunfire broke out at a home and then the high school in La Loche in January 2016.
“He and he alone needs to own these crimes. Please do not allow (him) or his defence to blame others … for these evil deeds,” Longobardi told the court.
“He and he alone is responsible for these acts. Not bullying, not suicide, not poverty, not teachers, not friends or family pulled the trigger. (He) did. Just (him). Stop blaming the others for what he chose to do.”
At the time of the shooting, the teen’s friends described him as the black sheep of his family and a victim of bullying at school.
But in a police interview recorded in October 2016, the teen himself contradicts that information.
In the video shown in court Wednesday afternoon, an officer asks the teen: “At any time did you ever feel bullied by anyone?”
“No,” the teen replies.
The officer asks the teen about a nickname, to which the teen says that his mother gave him the nickname as a baby and it’s not teasing.
The defence has said there is no simple reason behind the shooting, but little motive has been made clear so far.
Video surveillance from the school shows the teen walking and running through hallways, shotgun raised, and opening fire.
Teacher Adam Wood and teacher’s aide Marie Janvier were killed and seven others were hurt at the school.
Longobardi said she feels guilt, and wonders what she could have done differently that fateful day.
“Many times I’ve wanted to give up because that would be much easier. But … you didn’t kill me on Jan. 22, and I’m damn sure not giving you the upper hand this time,” Longobardi said as she stared right at the teen in court.
Outside court, Longobardi said she doesn’t believe he feels any remorse.
“If he had felt bad, when he came in and stared at me and held the gun on me for as long as he did, he would have stopped right there. But he didn’t. He just kept going.”
Two brothers, Dayne and Drayden Fontaine, were killed at the home.
Court has heard Dayne was shot 11 times despite pleading with the shooter, saying “I don’t want to die.”
Teacher Peter Bradley was Wood’s housemate and taught Drayden Fontaine. Bradley said he was often overwhelmed with grief and guilt.
The students chose to keep Drayden’s desk in the classroom.
“It became obvious that my students and I missed Drayden more than we could possibly understand. Often students would sit at his desk and read his journal. At the end of many days, I would often walk by and touch his desk, telling him how much I missed him,” Bradley said.
“I had a strong feeling of guilt. I would often ask the question: ‘Why not me?’ I experienced survivor’s guilt following the shooting. I felt guilty because I walked out of the school alive that day.”
Bradley said the guilt morphed into suicidal thoughts.
He also said he’s haunted by his students’ fearful faces which “will be forever etched in my memory.”
The only emotion from the teen gunman came when Bradley spoke about Drayden Fontaine. The teen appeared to wipe tears from his eyes, but he did not make eye contact with anyone.
The teen has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.
He was just shy of his 18th birthday at the time of the shooting and cannot be named. The hearing is to determine if he is sentenced as a youth or an adult.
The Crown has served notice that it wants an adult sentence.
La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre said in a victim impact statement that the teen “made a conscious decision to harm people” and should be sentenced as an adult.
“A concern for me would be the message that we are sending out there if this young man was convicted as a young offender,” said St. Pierre.
“So I ask the court to sentence this young man as an adult, otherwise the message we send is, it OK to take lives as there is no real consequence. That would be an injustice.”
Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press