Suspect charged with two counts of murder following shooting at Western Forest Products' sawmill in Nanaimo, British Columbia, to appear in court; identities of dead, injured, released, including Tony Sudar, VP of manufacturing, who is in stable condition
NANAIMO, British Columbia
May 1, 2014
(The Daily News )
– UPDATE: Late Wednesday night Kevin Douglas Addison, 47, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder with a firearm. He's due to appear in Nanaimo Provincial Court Thursday afternoon
Two workers were shot and killed and two injured when a suspected former employee of the Western Forest Products sawmill in Nanaimo opened fire early Wednesday morning.
"We can confirm that at about 7 a.m. we received a 911 call about shots fired at a business in Nanaimo," RCMP said in a brief statement. "Our members attended the scene within minutes, entered the building and arrested a suspect believed responsible for the shooting."
The Victoria Times Colonist identified the two deceased men as mill employees Michael Lunn, 61, and Fred McEachern.
Western Forest Products CEO Don Demens told media gathered at a noon press conference that the suspect, a 47-year-old man, was a former employee.
He said the company had closed its other sawmills in a show of respect and was offering grief counselling to employees to deal with the "very tragic" events.
Nanaimo RCMP Supt. Mark Fisher confirmed at the media briefing that the "evolving incident" had taken place both in the mill parking lot and in the office. He said police seized a shotgun at the scene. The man was believed to have been acting alone and was arrested at the mill without incident. He was being held at the Nanaimo RCMP detachment.
Fisher said police expect the mill to remain closed as officers conduct forensic investigations over the next few days.
The B.C. Coroners Service confirmed it was investigating two deaths at the mill. Those two victims were transported to Nanaimo General Regional Hospital after the shooting and were pronounced dead on arrival.
"It's just ... it's unexplainable," said Michael Lunn's sister, Linda Bledsoe.
Lunn grew up the only boy in a family of seven girls and loved his job at the mill, Bledsoe said.
"We were all very close," she said. "None of us are feeling anything right now."
The Vancouver Island Health Authority's Sarah Plank confirmed to The Province that of the two surviving victims, one was airlifted to Victoria General Hospital in critical condition, and another was transported via B.C. Ambulance to Nanaimo General Regional Hospital in stable condition.
The Colonist identified the patient at Nanaimo Hospital as Tony Sudar, Western Forest Products' vice president of manufacturing. Sudar had worked for the company since 1979 and was appointed vice president in 2011.
Area business owners were shaken by the morning's events.
Nanaimo's Gord Miller said he was jolted out of bed just before 7 a.m. by what he believed to be the sound of gunfire.
"I heard one shot. It was about a quarter to seven and then I heard all these sirens," said Miller, who owns Miller's Mini Storage Units on Fry Street and lives and works not far from the mill.
"I got up and took my dogs for a walk and I saw all these ambulances and cop cars."
Other employees at nearby businesses reported that access to the area was blocked off by police just after the incident.
"Everybody got stopped. The police were stopping traffic and wanted to know who you were," said Susan Szucs, an employee of K & S Railings, another nearby business.
At the mill, crying family members had gathered outside the facility, awaiting word about whether their loved ones were involved.
Nanaimo Mayor John Ruttan expressed his condolences on behalf of the city.
"Nanaimo is not a place where there is this type of violence," he said. "It's a very tragic incident. I know all our citizens stand by the families and wish them well in this extremely difficult time."
Premier Christy Clark also shared her sympathies in the legislature.
"This kind of tragedy is almost unknown in British Columbia," Clark said. "Most of us here today cannot imagine what the victims and their families must be going through. They should know they are not alone. The people of British Columbia are standing with them."
United Steelworkers, Local 1-1937, which represents union workers at the mill, said in a statement that they "would like to express our deepest sympathies and support for the victims, their families, and all the workers, both hourly and salaried."
"We do not know the reasons for the shootings at this time," the union continued, "and our focus now is on assisting the victims, their families, and their co-workers in dealing with a most traumatic incident."
Western Forest Products is one of B.C.'s major softwood products companies, with eight mills and 2,000 employees in B.C. and revenues of more than $50 million in 2012.
-- with a file from CP
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