VANCOUVER – Charges have been laid after two people were killed and two more injured following a shooting at a Nanaimo B.C. mill Wednesday morning.
Four men were shot after a man arrived at the Western Forest Products Mill on Nanaimo’s Assembly Wharf just before 7 a.m. and opened fire.
The suspect first opened fire in the parking lot before continuing into the office. Police say a shotgun was seized at the scene.
That man, a 47-year-old Nanaimo resident and former employee of the mill, was arrested shortly after.
Kevin Douglas Addison has now been charged with two counts of first degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
The two people who have been killed have been identified as 53-year-old Fred Mceachern and 61-year-old Michael Lunn of Nanaimo.
One of the surviving victims has been identified as Tony Sudar. He is the vice-president of manufacturing at Western Forest Products and his wife tells Global News he was shot in the side of the face. She says he felt like someone was behind him and when he turned around he was shot. He is now in stable condition in hospital.
Court documents have now identified the other survivor as Earl Kelly.
A bail hearing for Addison was held this evening. He will appear in Nanaimo provincial court on Thursday.
Nanaimo RCMP say there is no indication at this time that there are any other suspects and they are not releasing any details about a possible motive.
“The families and mill employees will now have to cope with the tragedy that occurred here today,” says Supt. Mark Fisher, officer in charge of the Nanaimo RCMP detachment.
“This kind of extreme violence is very rare.”
The workers at the mill will be offered grief counselling.
The Vancouver Island Health Authority says one person remains in critical, but stable condition and one is listed as stable.
The victims were transported to hospital via ground and air. One person was airlifted to Victoria General Hospital while the other three were taken to Nanaimo Regional Hospital. On arrival at hospital, two were pronounced deceased.
Amrit Johal’s father works at the mill. She says her dad heard the gunshots this morning.
Tali Campbell, whose best friend’s father works at the mill, says he didn’t think too much about the shooting when he woke up this morning.
“Coming here it’s so surreal, with all these cameras and police cars and ambulances, and right away your heart’s just going,” he says. “You haven’t heard from the guy this morning.”
“In the 17 years I’ve known him I’ve never seen him so shaken,” he adds. “I’ve never seen him cry once and I’ve seen him cry today. And when he hugged my mom he just grabbed her and was crying.”
About 30 to 40 people work at the mill, but there were less people at work this morning because the mill was not planning on shipping any items today. However, at certain times of the year there can be several hundred people working on-site.
Captain Edward Dahlgren, director of operations and harbourmaster, says there is no ongoing safety concerns.
“We deployed a member to assist in CPR after initial reports,” says Dahlgren, adding that they are now reviewing internal security protocols.
All Western Forest Products mills have been shut down out of respect for the victims.
Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan says it has been an emotional morning in the city.
“We’re shocked and disappointed obviously,” he says.
Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder expressed condolences to the friends and families of those injured and killed Wednesday.
“Like all Canadians I was saddened to hear about the incident at the Western Forest Products sawmill and share your distress. Nanaimo and the surrounding communities are very close-knit and I am comforted by the knowledge that in the midst of this tragedy we will find strength and solace in each other.”
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.
The mill exports products around the world to countries including the U.K., Japan, India, Australia and Argentina. They work with five types of sustainable wood products including western Red Cedar, Hemlock/Fir, Douglas Fir, Yellow Cedar and Sitka Spruce.
Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress, issued the following statement regarding the shootings:
“The Canadian Labour Congress extends its deepest sympathy to the victims of shootings today at the Western Forest Products sawmill in Nanaimo, B.C., and in particular to the families and friends of those who died as a result of their injuries. This is a terrible tragedy and we extend our sympathy and support to all involved. We note that many workers at the sawmill are members of the United Steelworkers and we are confident that union members will offer full support to the sisters and brothers affected by this deeply unfortunate event.”
USW, Local 1-1937 says it is working with Western Forest Products to ensure the victims, their families and all employees have access to grief counselling and all other services that they require.
They say ironically the tragic event occurred just a few days after the Day of Mourning on April 28th — a day set aside to remember workers who have been fatally or seriously injured at their workplace.
Premier Christy Clark called it a horrible tragedy.
“This kind of tragedy is almost unknown in British Columbia. Most of us here today cannot imagine what the victims and their families must be going through,” said the Premier. “They should know they are not alone. The people of British Columbia are standing with them.”