MEADOW LAKE, Sask. — A judge sentenced a young man who shot up a school and a home in northern Saskatchewan to life in prison Tuesday as she castigated a system she says has abandoned the survivors.
The shooter, who killed four and injured seven, won’t be eligible for parole for 10 years.
The young man was weeks away from his 18th birthday when he killed two teenage brothers, a teacher and a teacher’s aide in La Loche, Sask., He was sentenced as an adult, but can’t be named until his appeal options are exhausted.
Judge Janet McIvor called the shootings “senseless” and “coldly horrific.”
“These school shootings were planned and calculated to inflict as much damage as possible,” she told court.
The shooter pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.
Brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine were killed in their home before the teen went to the school where he fatally shot teacher Adam Wood, and teacher’s aide Marie Janvier. Seven others in the building were injured.
The shooter began formulating a plan as early as September 2015, McIvor said. He researched different kinds of guns and the damage they could do to people.
The night before the shootings, McIvor said he did an online search asking ”What does it feel like to kill someone?”
“His months and weeks of planning were over in a matter of minutes,” she said.
The events of January 2016 have hurt the northern community with fewer teachers willing to work there and an increase in substance abuse and suicides, the judge said.
Students in the community aren’t receiving the support they need and are being revictimized, she added. It’s a travesty that some aren’t receiving counselling because they can’t afford it, she said.
“They have been abandoned,” McIvor said. “They have been let down.
“More help is needed, counselling is needed. And it’s not right that that hasn’t been provided.”
The young man told court he can’t undo what he’s done, but he would if he could.
He looked back at his family in the gallery and said: “I’m sorry. I love you.”
His motive for the shooting is still unclear. His lawyer, Aaron Fox, said his client told him “I ask myself that every day.’”
The young man has been imprisoned at a provincial correctional centre in Prince Albert, Sask., where Fox said he reads, plays cards and speaks primarily to the chaplain. He will serve his sentence in a federal penitentiary.
But Fox said his client, who is now 20, could spend some of his sentence at a psychiatric centre so he can receive much-needed help.
“He knows he committed a horrendous act and he’s going to have to pay for it and is prepared to do so,” he said.
“This young man was lacking services and assistance long before this offence took place. Even the judge’s comments about what’s gone on in the community since the photo ops have been finished and everybody’s gone home is pathetic.”
McIvor said she took his apology into account, as well as his guilty pleas which spared the victims’ families the pain of a trial. She told court she can’t decide where he can serve his sentence and it will be up to the parole board to decide when or if he can be reintegrated into society.
He has a “very, very, very long road ahead of him,” she said.