January 7, 2017 2:18 pm
Updated: January 7, 2017 3:38 pm

Candlelight vigil planned for victims of murder-suicide in Nova Scotia

Police vehicles are seen outside a residence in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S. on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017.

Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press
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A candlelight vigil will be held Saturday evening in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., to remember four members of one family who died this week in a tragic triple murder-suicide.

RCMP confirmed Friday that Lionel Desmond, 33, took his own life after fatally shooting his wife Shanna, 31, their 10-year-old daughter Aalyiah and his 52-year-old mother, Brenda.

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READ MORE: Four family members in Nova Scotia murder-suicide died of gunshot wounds: RCMP

Relatives say the past week has been extremely difficult on family.

“They’re coping. Coping as best they can,” Amber Gero, Shanna Desmond’s cousin said.

“The one saving grace here is that we’re all here. We’re all coming down. If they’re not here already, they’re on their way down.”

Relatives say Lionel Desmond, a military veteran, suffered from PTSD since returning from a tour in Afghanistan in 2007.

WATCH: PTSD not the only factor in Nova Scotia triple murder-suicide, experts suggest

Police say they are still investigating what’s behind the murder-suicide, but will not comment on whether PTSD played a role in the tragedy.

The province has also launched its own investigation into what services were available to Lionel Desmond at St Martha’s Regional Hospital in the days before the family was found dead.

“I think there’s a lot of blame to go around when it comes to the help he was receiving,” Gero said. “Was it enough? Could there have been more done for him? Could there have been more done for his wife and his child? I mean, you don’t just treat the broken veteran; you treat the broken family they come home to.”

READ MORE: ‘I will fix it,’ Lionel Desmond said before Nova Scotia murder-suicides

Meanwhile, funeral arrangement for the Desmond family are on hold because family say they are getting no answers from Veterans Affairs and are unsure what, if any portion of Shanna and Aalyiah’s funerals will be covered.

“I think they should cover 100 per cent of it,” Gero said.

“You can’t send men and women off to war, they come back broken, they come back suffering from PTSD and think that it’s only them that are suffering. Their spouses are suffering, their children are suffering, so for them to die in such a tragic way after suffering and trying to help him for so long and for the military to say, ‘no, he’s not important and not the wife and daughter who had to live with it everyday.’ It disgusts me and they better step up.”

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