Cole Wintringham received the devastating news that his former foster parent was shot and killed inside a Salmon Arm church on Sunday morning.
The 78-year-old victim, Gordon Parmenter, and his life Peggy were Wingtringham’s foster parents from 2013-2017.
“I was in tears,” Wintrigham said of learning the tragic news.
“During that time, Gord and Peggy were more than foster parents — they treated me like their own kin. Gordon was driven by his faith, and helping people was his way of serving God,” Wingtringham said in a letter to Global News.
He said Parmenter volunteered to be the emergency placement in Salmon Arm and many foster children would come and go from his home if they had nowhere else to go.
“My favourite memories of Gord are the times he would take me up along the forestry roads in the Fly Hills and the countless hours we spent in his shop, tinkering away on various projects,” he said.
“Woodworking was his third love, God was his first followed by his wife.”
Wingtringham said Parmenter formerly served in the US Navy. He was born in California.
He said Parmenter connected with his foster children through telling stories.
“If you name any situation, Gordon could probably recite a story about it — more than likely one involving the Navy,” Wintrigham said.
“He would never give up on any one of us. He often told me to the effect there were no ‘bad kids,’ just kids who fell through society’s cracks.”
Wingtringham said Parmenter treated strangers like family.
“Really that reflects how Gordon saw the world. When he saw someone begging for just enough money to buy a coffee from Tim Hortons, Gordon would take them inside and pay for whatever breakfast they wanted, with no limits on the price,” he said.
“For Gordon, everyone was family, and that was the single most important thing he ever taught me.”
Parmenter was gunned down during morning service at the Church of Christ in Salmon Arm, B.C. on Sunday. A second man who was injured in the shooting was airlifted to hospital and is in stable condition.
A 25-year-old suspect remains in police custody and charges are pending.
Parmenter’s son Dave told Global News the alleged shooter is not a former foster child of his father, but is well-known to the family and could be facing mental health issues.
Condolences are also pouring in online on the Church of Christ’s Facebook page with messages of sadness and disbelief.
“Gordon was a GREAT MAN! Our hearts are shattered!” wrote Lori Plummer.
“Prayers go up to the Church of my youth in the town of Salmon Arm…to my friends and those directly and indirectly effected by the shooting and the loss of a community and church leader,” wrote Matt Tumlinson.
“He made a powerful impact on all who knew him and if you knew him you know of his love and his affection fueled by his faith in Jesus Christ,” the campaign says.
All proceeds will go towards supporting his wife, Peggy.
“Peggy is heartbroken but strong like a tower.”
One month prior to the shooting, Parmenter lost his home in a suspicious fire. The tires on both vehicles were slashed. Police have not confirmed if the shooting and arson are related.