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Crime

‘He did everything to be helpful’: Landlord says accused quadruple murder gunman a model tenant

WATCH: The landlord of John Brittain tells Global News what kind of tenant the Penticton shooting suspect was and what happened the morning of the shooting.

The landlord of a Penticton, B.C., man accused of quadruple homicide said he was a model tenant.

Peggy and Anthony Friesen own a fourplex where John Brittain, 68, resided for the past five years — 184 Lakeview St.

The unit was released by RCMP on Thursday morning. It had been behind yellow police tape for the past three days as police investigated possible links to the crime scene across the street.

READ MORE: More than 300 gather for vigil in Penticton to remember shooting victims

Brittain is accused of shooting Rudi Winter, 71, with a rifle as Winter pruned a tree at his friend’s home across the street from where Brittain resided in downtown Penticton.

MAP: Locations of shootings and residences involved in Monday’s fatal shooting spree

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Brittain is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Winter.

Investigators believe he then travelled to his ex-wife’s neighbourhood on Cornwall Drive and killed three of her neighbours.

Darlene Knippelberg and Susan and Barry Wonch were gunned down inside their homes on Cornwall Drive.

WATCH: Penticton mass shooting neighbourhood saw dozens of bylaw complaint calls — ex-city officials

Penticton mass shooting neighbourhood saw dozens of bylaw complaint calls: ex-city officials
Penticton mass shooting neighbourhood saw dozens of bylaw complaint calls: ex-city officials

Brittain is accused of first-degree murder in their deaths.

Brittain’s landlord, Peggy, didn’t know John on a personal level but said he was an exceptional tenant.

“We never had one ounce of problem with him. He was always respectful. He was a gentleman,” she told Global News in a phone interview on Thursday.

“He would shake your hand and kind of say hello, and that’s all we know of him because he wasn’t a yacker; he was quiet.”

READ MORE: Neighbours’ dispute possible motive in Penticton fatal shooting spree

Peggy said Brittain was helpful when things needed to get done around the house.

“I had a problem down there with the hot water tank and my husband wasn’t home. John helped me; I said: ‘John, thank you, thank you, thank you,’” she said.

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“He did everything to be helpful.”

Peggy said her husband talked to Brittain the day before the alleged shooting spree.

Man charged with murder after shooting spree in Penticton
Man charged with murder after shooting spree in Penticton

WATCH: Man charged with murder after shooting spree in Penticton

“They had talked about weather. He had just talked to John the day before, I think it was, and John just asked how we did on the winter and about the weather; it was all just surface talk,” she said.

Peggy’s husband Tony Friesen tells Global News he was working on his property on the other side of the fourplex when he heard gun shots.

“We are installing a window and all of a sudden you hear a bang… then there was a pause and then two more bangs,” he said.

“I came around the back and saw what had happened. I [saw] the man laying on the ground and the police were just arriving,” Friesen said.

He also described Brittain as a mild-mannered, good tenant.

“The other tenants in the building had a very good view of him. They are just as shocked as I am because he was nice to talk to, an easy guy to talk to.”

Peggy said she is upset with Penticton RCMP as no one from the detachment has contacted her or her husband since the shooting on Monday.

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“It’s behind tape. We can’t get in there. It’s a crime scene; I don’t know why where he lived is a crime scene. He didn’t do anything there. Why is our building behind tape? Why is his unit behind tape?” she said.

READ MORE: 4 people dead, 1 in custody after ‘targeted’ shooting spree in downtown Penticton

Peggy wasn’t informed that the scene has been released by investigators, and the yellow police tape has come down.

“Unless we had a specific need to speak to a landlord it would be up to the tenant to determine the disposition of their property,” said Penticton RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager.

“We no longer have a hold on the property or the authority to do anything with it.”

“As far as a tenant, he was a good tenant, and that’s all we know. I know nothing about his personal life,” she said.

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