Police are still investigating multiple crime scenes in Faro following a shooting on Oct. 26.
Two people are dead and a third person is in stable condition after suffering critical injuries, RCMP confirmed during an Oct. 27 press conference.
According to Chief Superintendent Scott Sheppard, police received the initial call about a domestic dispute at approximately 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday.
Officers found a critically injured man at the first location. After officers called for backup and gave first aid to the injured man, they found a 42-year-old woman unresponsive at another residence on the same street.
He said attempts to resuscitate the woman by police officers and community members were unsuccessful.
“As public safety remains a top priority, the officers attended the local school to assist staff in putting the school into a state of lockdown, or hold and secure. This was to prevent any further threat to students, teachers and staff,” Sheppard said.
He added that the decision to lock down the school was made based on information they had about one of the victims. Sheppard later clarified that responders were aware that one of the victims had children.
As backup officers arrived, reports of shots at two other locations in Faro were received. Sheppard said the suspected shooter was taken into custody without injury to him or to RCMP officers at approximately 1:56 p.m.
Following the arrest of the suspect, the body of a 73-year-old man was found at a residence near where the second series of shots was reported.
Sheppard did not name any of the victims.
Man taken into custody
Ralph Shaw, 61, is facing six charges involving four victims
He has been charged with two counts of first degree murder; two counts of attempted murder with a firearm; and two counts of aggravated assault.
Court documents list the murder victims as Saenduean Honchaiyaphum and Patrick McCracken. Joseph Boudreau is listed as an attempted murder victim who was wounded leading to one of the attempted murder charges leveled against Shaw. Deborah Carreau is also listed as a victim of attempted murder and the second aggravated assault charge states that Shaw endangered her life constituting an aggravated assault.
Shaw has been legally barred from contacting 20 people, according to court documents.
He is in custody, and next expected in court on Nov. 3.
Sheppard would not provide further information about the crime scenes or the weapons used in the attack citing the ongoing investigation and a desire to avoid jeopardizing future court proceedings.
He said police presume there was a relationship between the alleged attacker and the victims.
He also acknowledged rumours that the attack involved an estranged husband and wife but said police would not discuss the relationship further and that facts would be revealed in due course.
“Our thoughts and condolences go to the families friends and community of the victims. This is a tragic situation for the Town of Faro and Yukon as a whole,” Sheppard said.
“All of our available resources have been brought to bear on this investigation including assistance from B.C. RCMP’s Forensic Identification Services. We’re also working with Victim Services, chief coroner’s office and other agencies to provide support to victims, witnesses and the community at large.”
Shelter in place orders
When pressed by reporters over communication of an order for Faro residents to shelter in place, Sheppard defended police handling of the incident.
“The people who are in possession of that information, and who were in a position to make those calls in terms of relaying information to the media had scarcely information themselves at that time. And so we knew that there was an event unfolding. We had a belief that it may have involved firearms, but we didn’t know for certain. The initial call came in as a domestic dispute.”
He said RCMP officers made a judgement call based on available information and decided that a shelter in place order with no mention of a shooter would achieve the same end.
Town of Faro Facebook page was the first to warn residents to stay indoors at 2:10 p.m. on Oct 26 stating:
“There is an active shooter in Faro. Please stay home and lock your doors until further notice. Thank you for your cooperation.” The post was edited to say the order had been rescinded at 2:47 p.m.
The Yukon RCMP’s Facebook communications tell Faro residents to shelter in place at 2:12 p.m. A tweet with the same information went out at 2:57 p.m.
The RCMP Facebook notice rescinding the shelter in place order was posted at 2:44 p.m. A tweet with the information about the order being rescinded was sent at 3:29 p.m.
An emergency alert message went out to all Yukon cell phones at 2:13 p.m. with the shelter in place order. It was rescinded at 2:27 p.m.
A candlelight vigil was planned for the tree circle in Faro at 6 p.m. on Oct. 27.
|Flags flying half-mast at Whitehorse City Hall on Oct. 27 to honour the victims of the Faro shooting. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)|
In Whitehorse, the Council of Yukon First Nations hosted a sacred fire at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre on Oct. 28 at 5 p.m.
Flags in Whitehorse and Dawson City are being flown at half-mast to commemorate the tragedy.
The Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation expressed condolences via press release on Oct. 27.
“We as a community and as a Nation are devastated by the tragedy that shattered so many lives in your beautiful community yesterday,” it says.
“We want you to know that you are not alone. We … stand beside you in solidarity during this difficult time.”
-Those seeking support in Faro or elsewhere in the territory can call victim services at 1-800-661-0408 extension 8500. The Canadian Mental Health Association Yukon number is 1-844-533-3030, it is staffed by volunteers from 2 pm to 10 pm daily. The Yukon Government offers rapid access counselling by phone at 1-866-456-3838 toll free.
— With files from Gabrielle Plonka
Contact Jim Elliot at firstname.lastname@example.org