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Update: Four Killed In Canada School Shooting


Every parent's worst nightmare. That's how Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the school shooting that left four people dead and several more injured in remote La Loche, Saskatchewan. The La Loche Community School serves children from kindergarten through high school. The shooting happened after lunch Friday, and eyewitnesses described chaos. A 17-year-old male suspect is in custody. Reporter Jason Warick has been covering the story, he joins me now. Thanks so much for being with us, Jason.

JASON WARICK: No, thank you.

MARTIN: What can you tell us about the shooter or a possible motive?

WARICK: Well, it is a 17-year-old male. And under our criminal justice system, he's considered a youth. And therefore, we can't identify the youth. Even if we do know who he is, we can't say his relation, or possible relation, to any of the suspects or motive. But definitely at a prayer vigil last night, there was a lot of talk of issues ranging from bullying to addictions, which are not uncommon in other communities, but it definitely seemed to be part of the focus.

MARTIN: What about the community? Can you describe La Loche for us and what reaction's been there?

WARICK: Sure. It's located about 800 kilometers, or 500 miles, north of the Montana border with Canada. It's in the boreal forest. Most people here are Dene, indigenous people who still speak their language. And there's about 3,000 people here who mostly hunt with their firearms. Almost everyone has a gun, but it's not for protection or many of the other reasons our neighbors to the south might purchase one.

MARTIN: Canada does have much stricter gun control than the U.S., but how often does something like this happen?

WARICK: It does get a lot of attention when it happens because it is exceedingly rare. Although Canada has experienced gun deaths and other mass murders, whether it's on Parliament Hill, in our nation's capital, or in La Loche here, when you look at the big picture, the numbers are still comparable to that of Switerland or other European countries - much more similar than to those of our neighbors to the south and the U.S. And the tragedies in - recent ones in the U.S., in Sandy Hook and San Bernardino, wherever it is, are even more rare in Canada here. The number of gun deaths is a fraction of what it is there, and that's why it seems to be hitting everyone so hard.

MARTIN: Jason Warick is a reporter with the Saskatchewan StarPhoenix. Thanks so much for talking with us.

WARICK: Take care, thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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