EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Nine people, including seven adults and two young children, were found dead at three separate crime scenes in what Edmonton’s police chief on Tuesday called the city’s worst mass murder.
Chief Rod Knecht told a news conference the killings were the result of domestic violence. The victims included a middle-aged woman found Monday night by officers who were responding to a report of a man entering the south-side home, opening fire and fleeing.
Police were later called to a house in a quiet cul de sac in the northeast Monday afternoon to check on reports of a depressed, suicidal male earlier in the evening.
“The male was not located and there was no response, and nothing suspicious was noted at the residence.”
Knecht said police received new information after midnight that prompted officers to return to the house where they found the seven bodies. He didn’t say how the victims died or what prompted police to return.
“It is a tragic day for Edmonton,” he said. “This series of events are not believed to be random acts. … These events do not appear to be gang-related, but rather tragic incidents of domestic violence.”
The police chief didn’t give the ages of the two children, other than to say they were very young. The adult victims were all middle-aged.
Neighbor Moe Assiff said he saw officers come out and talk to a woman sitting with a man in a white car outside the house.
“She just let out a hysterical scream. It was eerie,” Assiff said.” She was screaming about her kids: ‘My kids! The kids!,’ grabbing her hair and trying to pull her hair out. The cops then ushered her down the road into a police cruiser.”
About two hours after that, the drama shifted to the VN Express Asian restaurant in the bedroom community of Fort Saskatchewan where a man matching the description of the suicidal male was found dead on Tuesday morning, Knecht said.
“Our homicide investigators have established associations and linkages between these homicides,” he said.
Police would not elaborate on the connection between the deaths.
“It’s a really complex case involving multiple locations and police have yet to identity the suicide victim so police cannot yet say with 100 percent accuracy what the connection is,” said police spokesman Scott Patterson.
In Edmonton, a city of 878,000 people, mass murders are extremely rare. Knecht said the case was the worst mass killing in the city since at least 1956, when six people were murdered.
John Etter Clark, a provincial politician who served as a member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta for four years, killed his wife, son, three daughters and an employee of their family farm before taking his own life in 1956. Clark had been suffering from frequent nervous breakdowns in the years before the killings.
Alberta Justice Minister Jonathan Denis said in a statement that his thoughts and prayers were with the families and friends of those involved as well as with first responders.