A makeshift memorial is growing outside the site of a shooting that left two people dead and sent two others to hospital in Nanaimo this morning.
Friends and families of the victims have been leaving flowers at the gate of the Western Forest Products Mill throughout the day as community is trying to come to terms with the tragedy.
Four men were shot after the suspect arrived at the mill on Nanaimo’s Assembly Wharf just before 7 a.m. this morning and opened fire.
The man, a 47-year-old Nanaimo resident and former employee of the mill, is now in police custody. He acted alone.
Nanaimo RCMP say this type of violence is extremely rare in the community.
City Mayor John Ruttan says it has been an emotional morning in the city.
“We’re shocked and disappointed obviously,” he says.
“It is hard to explain, hard to fathom,” one man told Global News.
Many residents said it is something they would not expect to happen in their community.
The sister of Michael Lunn, one of the two men killed in the shooting, stopped by the memorial to leave a red coloured T-shirt. She says her brother’s favourite colour was red.
“He was a great man, he was my hero,” she said.
Keith Starkiewicz, a contractor who did some maintenance work at the mill, came down to the site of the shooting to leave some flowers this afternoon.
“I knew a few of the guys in here, and it just makes me really sad that anything like this could happened when you are at work. These guys are just trying to come in and make a living for their family. Something like that happens, it is heartbreaking.”
WATCH: Memorial growing
The mill has undergone a series of restructuring operations over the last decade beginning with closure of its Silvertree sawmill in 2005.
It then acquired Cascadia mills and Englewood, and further restructuring took place in 2009 and 2010 in response to weak worldwide lumber markets.
The company’s corporate office was also relocated to Vancouver. The company has sold off a number of non-core assets since 2008 to pay down long-term debt.