Four people have been killed and two critically injured in a school shooting in La Loche, Saskatchewan, in Canada today, according to the Huffington Post. It is Canada’s worst school shooting in decades.
People are “trying to fathom” the motives of the shooter, and witnesses recalling the terrifying scenes as the sound of gunfire rang out and panicked students ran for their lives.
The gunman is believed to have first shot two of his own siblings before killing others.
The Canadian Press has gained access to a screenshot of a chilling exchange that took place on social media a short time before the shooting.
The gunman wrote “Just killed 2 ppl.” He then added, “Bout to shoot up the school.”
“Why?” asked a friend. “Why?”
Canadian PM: "Country’s heart is breaking," after 4 people were killed in school shooting in Saskatchewan. https://t.co/AkDWQqXczw
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) January 23, 2016
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) January 22, 2016
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made a statement from Switzerland, saying Canadians stand with the people of La Loche and Saskatchewan.
“Obviously this is every parent’s worst nightmare. We all grieve with and stand with the community of La Loche and all of Saskatchewan on this terrible, tragic day.”
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 23, 2016
Bruce Heyman, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, also sent a message, published on his official Twitter page. Heyman referenced the spate of school shootings and massacres that have rattled different American cities and plunged communities into despair in recent decades.
“We have experienced similar tragedies far too often in the United States and understand all too well the heartache and sadness that result from such a horrific event.”
Gun Safety lobbyists Everytown claim that there have been 163 school shootings in America since 2013 — an astonishing average of one per week.
“When it comes to American children being exposed to gunfire, these shootings are just the tip of the iceberg. A report by the Urban Institute showed that in the single school district of Washington, DC, there were at least 336 gunshots in the vicinity of schools over a single school year.”
The victims of the Saskatchewan shooting have not officially been named, according to Sky News.
Chief Superintendent Maureen Levy told reporters that the motive for the attack remains unclear.
The school is in a remote, impoverished area, roughly 600 km (375 miles) from the city of Saskatoon. A lockdown was imposed in the hours after the shooting. This has now been lifted and “all children have been moved to safety.”
School in province of Sasketchewan, Canada, on lockdown after shooting; number of victims unknown: https://t.co/Usxv1rtVZ2
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 22, 2016
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) January 22, 2016
Premier Rachel Notley has released a statement about the shooting:
“It is unacceptable that innocent children and their caring teachers should suffer violence and bloodshed under any circumstance, and especially in school where they have a right to feel safe.
“We know how closely knit First Nations communities are, and this tragedy is being felt and shared by every member of the Dene people, and by Indigenous peoples right across Alberta. All Albertans stand beside our Saskatchewan neighbors, and we share in this tragedy as parents, educators and friends.”
Social media users have flooded Twitter with condolences, expressions of shock and dismay, and angry words in the hours since the murders.
— Josh G. Hall (@vancan19) January 22, 2016
On behalf of all sports fans on The Sports News Desk our thoughts & condolences go out to everyone in Saskatchewan, Canada after shooting
— Sports News Desk (@sportsf63534625) January 23, 2016
Pray for all affected by this …. Canada shootings: four dead in separate killings at school and house https://t.co/wSq2OnHjdf
— Tricia (@TriciaFrasman) January 23, 2016
— Melissa Kainberger (@Melsauceness) January 23, 2016
Sending my love to everyone affected in the Saskatchewan school shooting. To the four, who's lives were taken from them. Fly high ????????????????????
— Jass (@Jassss_Little) January 23, 2016
[Photo by Aaron Vincent Elkaim/Getty Images]