17-year-old charged in La Loche school shooting appears in court
The suspect in the La Loche shooting rampage that killed four people and injured seven others appeared in court Monday.
The 17-year-old boy, who can’t be named under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, made an appearance in a packed and somber Meadow Lake provincial court, which is about 270 kilometres south of the community.
“We’ve seen this happening in the [United] States but this is right in our backyard, this could be any community,” said Bob Merasty, vice-chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN).
The accused is charged with four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder and unauthorized use of a firearm.
The teen has been remanded to a youth facility until his next court appearance by video on Feb. 22.
The judge also ordered the teen to have no contact with any of the surviving victims in Friday’s shooting.
A publication ban was also made on the publishing of any information that may identify the seven injured people.
“I think it’s important again that we respect the families’ wishes and the families have been very clear that they want their privacy. They need to be together, they need to deal with their grief and their loss and they’re wellness and health is paramount at this time,” Merasty added.
FULL COVERAGE: La Loche school shooting
A teacher and a teacher’s aide were shot at the high school in the northern Saskatchewan community. Two brothers were also killed at a home prior to the school shooting.
Seven other people were injured at the school. Government officials have not provided an update on their condition, citing patient privacy.
During the court appearance, the accused scanned the room for a familiar face and pointed to his mother when asked about his family. At the time of the shooting, he surrendered to police and is facing numerous charges.
“The charges that are laid, there’s four counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of attempted murder and one count of unauthorized possession of a fire arm.” RCMP Supt. Grant St. Germaine said on Jan. 23.
No clear motivation has been established but the teen is said to have been bullied.
“This is a young man that perhaps a victim himself of circumstances. It’s a community with history of violence, bullying, suicide, drug and abuse and dysfunction, this could be any community,” Merasty said.
“This is a call for action for us to really invest in our youth,” he said.
Other say if nothing changes, it won’t be long before another tragedy like this unfolds.
“This will awaken them, that a community like La Loche way up north was forgotten, the people were forgotten and isolated,” said Lloyd Fiddler, who attended court on Monday.
“You need to hear the people that are crying for help, you can’t just sit there and do nothing.”
WATCH: Friend remembers victims, suspect in La Loche shooting
Friends of the suspect are shocked by what he is accused of doing.
Caurtenay Janvier told Global News he grew up playing with the suspect, along with two of the victims, Dayne and Drayden Fontaine.
“I never knew he would have that kind of temper, the temper to kill or hurt innocent people,” Janvier said.
“As a kid we all used to fight sometimes,” he continued, “but we’d get along afterwards.”
Community in mourning
WATCH: Global News’ Whitney Stinson is live in La Loche Monday morning with details of a community vigil held Sunday night.
The small community of La Loche is still reeling from the deadly attacks.
Both the high school, where part of the attack took place, as well as the elementary school is closed Monday as police are still investigating at the site.
There is no word on when they will reopen. The elementary school is currently being used as a crisis centre.
La Loche’s interim Mayor Kevin Janvier wants to see the school torn down and a new one built because of the trauma that happened there.
Donna Johnson, the assistant deputy minister of education, said while no decision has been made yet on whether to raze the school, they will work with the community as part of the healing process.
“We’ll be consulting with the community on their needs and we’ll work with them together to determine what plan will go forward to ensure that there is a school facility that meets the community’s needs,” said Johnson.
Premier Brad Wall says the village will get the provincial support it needs to help with the healing, and with infrastructure improvements.
Every day since the attack, the community has hosted healing circles where people can come together and share their stories.
The teachers’ federation says it’s sending two counsellors to the small town to support school staff and will also offer them financial assistance.
With files from Global’s Meaghan Craig and the Canadian Press.
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