Man faces murder charges in slayings of two men, two women in Penticton, B.C.

PENTICTON, B.C. — A former city employee described as a hard-working, civic-minded gentleman has been charged with four counts of murder after a series of daytime shootings that terrorized people in Penticton, B.C.

Dan McLaughlin of the B.C. prosecution service said Tuesday that three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder have been laid against John Brittain, 68.

Mayor John Vassilaki said Brittain was an employee in the city’s engineering department for several years.

Vassilaki said he was “very saddened” when he learned of the charges.

“He was a gentleman. He did his job well,” the mayor told a news conference. “He was very in favour of what our community was doing, was always involved in community matters, him and his wife.”

Kelly Sherman, president of Ecora Engineering and Resource Group, said Brittain joined the company two years ago as a civil engineer. He said Brittain was in the office briefly on the day of the shooting, but declined to give any further details.

“He was just soft spoken, quiet engineer. We’re shocked and saddened by this,” Sherman said.

Brittain appeared in court on Tuesday morning, at one point taking off his glasses and looking into the public gallery. He is expected to make his next court appearance May 8. None of the allegations against him has been tested in court.

RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager said two men and two women in their 60s and 70s were killed, but police are not releasing any further information about the victims.

Rudi Winter, 71, was identified by his wife, Renate, as one of the victims. She told the Penticton Herald he was shot outside a duplex where he was doing maintenance work for a friend.

De Jager said the shootings were targeted and police are trying to determine a motive. The accused and the victims knew each other, he added, but wouldn’t elaborate.

De Jager said police received a call about a possible shooting at about 10:30 a.m. on Monday.

Police say after the first shooting on Heales Avenue, the suspect drove about five kilometres to a second location on Cornwall Drive where the other three people were attacked.

De Jager said a man was killed on Heales. A man and a woman were found in one home on Cornwall and a woman was found in the neighbouring residence.

De Jager said an unarmed suspect walked into the RCMP detachment about an hour after the first report of a possible shooting and surrendered.

He said police are continuing to offer support to residents of the community who need it.

“I recognize that these heart-breaking events have deeply impacted our community and will continue to do so for some time,” he said.

A young buck wandered down the quiet residential street of Cornwall Drive as residents returned home from work and school on Tuesday.

Thuy Do, who lives a few doors down from the homes where the shootings took place, said she and her mother stayed home all day out of fear.

“I’m so scared,” she said, “I can’t sleep. My mom is scared, she can’t go outside.”

Sigrid Boersma said she has lived in the “very nice neighbourhood” for about 16 years and described the shootings as unbelievable.

“The whole thing makes people shaky, insecure. I feel that the whole street should get some help after this because we’re all shaking.”

Local legislature member Dan Ashton, who was mayor of Penticton between 2008 and 2013, said he didn’t remember Brittain from his time at city hall. But he said the community has been deeply affected by the violence.

“It’s been very traumatic for the community. It is a close-knit community with a lot of people who are long-term residents here and my heartfelt, sincere condolences go out to the individuals affected by this, family and friends.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fracking caused March 2019 earthquake near Sylvan Lake, say scientists

4.18 earthquake south of Sylvan Lake rattled doors and windows as far as Red Deer

Possible Red Deer cougar sighting creating a stir

Many have posted their own cougar stories online since Advocate story ran last Friday

Red Deer’s emergency management team is watching to learn how Newfoundland handles its massive snowfall

“We’ve had extreme snowfalls before,” says co-ordinator Karen Mann — and will again

Red Deer city council wants answers before re-zoning for women’s shelter expansion

Is the creek escarpment stable enough for construction?

Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Military personnel armed with shovels spread out across… Continue reading

WATCH: Canadian kid shovelling snow video goes viral

Rory might just be Canada’s most popular toddler right now, thanks to… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Jan. 22 Downtown House Senior Center (5414 43 St.) in Red Deer… Continue reading

David Marsden: Warm tales about the cold

The recent deep freeze has rocked all of us. Every Red Deer… Continue reading

Soldiers trade rifles for snow shovels to help dig out St. John’s

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Military personnel armed with shovels spread out across… Continue reading

Canadian airlines feel the pressure of flight-shaming and the ‘Greta effect’

MONTREAL — Swedish may not be the lingua franca of the aviation… Continue reading

Trump thanks farmers for backing him through China trade war

AUSTIN, Texas — President Donald Trump thanked farmers Sunday for supporting him… Continue reading

CETA can serve as template for post-Brexit Canada-U.K. trade deal

CALGARY — Canada’s trade agreement with the European Union should serve as… Continue reading

MEC cuts costs, boosts perks in effort to turn around struggling retailer

VANCOUVER — Mountain Equipment Co-op is making major changes as it “needs… Continue reading

Most Read