Man responsible for Edmonton mass murder identified: sources
WATCH: As people in Edmonton try to process the horror of a mass murder, including six adults and two children, we are getting a clearer picture of how the tragedy unfolded. Reid Fiest reports.
EDMONTON – Sources have confirmed to Global News that the man responsible for the largest mass murder in Edmonton’s history is 53-year-old Phu Lam.
Between Monday evening and early Tuesday morning, eight people were killed and Lam was found dead by suicide.
Seven victims were found dead in a home in north Edmonton in the Lakeview area early Tuesday morning. According to land titles, the Lakeview home is owned by Lam and Tien Truong.
Police said the bodies of three middle-aged women, two middle-aged men and two children, a boy and a girl – both under the age of 10 – were discovered. The adults are between the ages of 25 and 50. Neighbours told Global News a couple with young children lived in the home, as well as an elderly woman. They said the boy was eight years old and his sister was just one.
“They would ride their bicycles, play tag, draw chalk on the sidewalk,” said Jeff Bautista, who lives across the street. “They seemed quite happy.”
“I remember there was one incident … just heard some verbal altercations over there,” Bautista recalled.
“It was actually loud enough for us to hear it through our windows.”
Nghia, who stopped to pay his respects at the north Edmonton home Wednesday evening, says he knew almost all of the victims found dead inside the house.
“We worked together,” he said. “I miss them.”
Nghia appeared quite distraught as he left the home, wiping tears from his eyes. He says grief counsellors were brought in to speak to employees at his place of work.
READ MORE: Edmonton mass murder – a timeline of events
Police have not identified seven of the victims, but have confirmed 37-year-old Cyndi Duong was the other victim – found dead in a home in the Haddow neighbourhood.
Late Wednesday, police spokesperson Scott Pattison said the seven people in Lakeview were killed before Duong was shot in Haddow. While Duong was the first victim found dead by police, it appears the fatal events began at the home in north Edmonton.
Police say the remaining autopsies will be completed on Jan. 1.
A friend of the 37-year-old said, “Cyndi was always a happy lady with an infectious smile.”
Lily Le, president of the Edmonton Vietnamese Association, knew the victim when she was younger.
“She was a very bubbly, sweet girl… she was always smiling. She had this really contagious laugh actually. That’s how I remember Cyndi.”
“I’m trying to still come to grips with what has happened,” said Le. “I know her family, her parents, her cousins and her husband too. It’s just very, very sad.”
Le said the community is hoping to plan a vigil for all the victims and will do whatever it can to help any children and family members affected by the deaths.
Police chief Rod Knecht said Duong died of a fatal gunshot wound in the home in southwest Edmonton Monday night. Police were called there for a weapons complaint around 7 p.m. Monday and discovered her body when they arrived on scene.
Duong was married with three children, two boys, 14 and 10, and an eight-year-old girl. There were children in the home at the time of the shooting. After responding to the homicide scene, police said the rest of the family was safe, and had spoken to officers.
“This really scares all of us,” said area resident Sabreena Nathwani. “This stuff doesn’t happen in our neighbourhood. You wouldn’t think that it would.”
According to land titles, the Haddow home is owned by Duong and David Luu.
The man police believe is responsible for the deaths, Phu Lam, was found in a downtown Fort Saskatchewan restaurant at 2:20 a.m. Tuesday. RCMP established he died from “an apparent suicide.” Edmonton’s police chief said officers were not looking for any additional suspects.
The Canadian Press was told he was a maintenance man at the VN Express restaurant, where his body was found.
The daughter-in-law of an owner of VN Express said he had a key to the Fort Saskatchewan eatery and would have had access after hours. Huong Tran said the man was her mother-in-law’s ex-husband, but she declined to comment any further.
Police have said the suspect had a business interest in the restaurant.
Tuesday night, chief Knecht revealed the man was known to police and had a criminal record dating back to 1987. Police had also been to the Lakeview home twice before.
“A male subject was arrested and charged for offences relating to domestic violence, sexual assault and uttering threats,” said Knecht.
Sources said the case never made it to trial.
The police chief also revealed a stolen handgun was used in the deadly attacks.
“The weapon used in these senseless murders was a 9 mm handgun legally registered in British Columbia in 1997 and reported stolen in Surrey, B.C. in 2006,” said Knecht.
Despite the suspect’s criminal past, police have emphasized there is nothing to suggest the killings were anything other than a “planned and deliberate” act of domestic violence.
People continued to drop off flowers and other items outside the three crime scenes on Wednesday. Edmonton mayor Don Iveson also visited the north-end home and laid flowers at the memorial.
“Like all Edmontonians, I am shocked and saddened to hear of the multiple homicides that took place on Monday night,” said Iveson in a statement.
“On behalf of City Council, our hearts are heavy with the news, and our thoughts are with the friends and family of the victims as we all struggle to come to terms with the magnitude of what has happened.
“As more details have emerged, it now seems clear that this is a devastating case of domestic violence.
“The scale of these events is rare and exceptional. However, domestic violence remains all too common in our society and this tragedy is a harsh reminder of the continuing need for support for individuals and families in crisis, and the critical importance of reporting any instances of domestic violence to police.”
Watch below: Memorials grow in three neighbourhoods in and around Edmonton following the city’s mass murder earlier this week.
With files from The Canadian Press