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Four dead after shooting in Penticton, B.C.; one male suspect in custody

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  • PENTICTON, B.C. — The RCMP say four people were found dead Monday in three locations after targeted shootings within a five-kilometre radius in Penticton, B.C.

    Supt. Ted De Jager said a man turned himself in at the city’s police headquarters and officers were searching his car.

    “We’re still trying to find the motive for this whole incident, so that’s part of the ongoing investigation,” he told a news conference.

    “Indications right now are that all four were targeted.”

    De Jager said the Mounties received a call about a possible shooting in the downtown at about 10:30 a.m. and the suspect was taken into custody about an hour later.

    Earlier, police cordoned off the city’s downtown and were telling people to avoid the area because of a serious, unfolding situation. They asked the public to follow the direction of police and to avoid specific areas but later lifted those restrictions.

    “I understand that this is a deeply troubling incident that has taken place in our community,” De Jager said, adding that more than 30 officers were involved in the response to the shootings.

    “Our hearts and thoughts are with all those impacted by this terribly tragic incident. Our priority now, will be to speak with the families of those involved and offer our support.”

    He said one person was found dead in the north end of the city; the three others were found in the south end.

    Police identified one victim as a man, but have not released any details about the other three victims.

    De Jager said an emergency response team was deployed to another place in the city, but police said it was not related to the shootings and the incident was resolved.

    Joyce Brennan, a downtown resident, said she was taking out the recycling sometime between 9:30 and 10 a.m. when she heard the sound of three muffled bangs in the distance.

    “But there is a lot of construction going on around us here, so I just assumed it was something to do with that,” said Brennan.

    She said her son called a short time later to say someone was killed near her house.

    Shelley Halvorson was in her office at J&E Automotive Services Ltd. at around 10:30 a.m. when she heard “pop, pop, pop, pop,” she said.

    “All of a sudden, all these cop cars were swarming the area, and an ambulance showed up, and we went outside and I saw a guy laying in the grass,” she said.

    The man was laying on the lawn outside a home, she said.

    “We were told we had to get back inside because there was a guy — who shot this guy — who was on the loose with a rifle,” Halvorson said. 

    Three or four officers with rifles and a police dog charged down a nearby side street, while other police officers stayed behind and taped off the area, said Halvorson.

    “It was kind of scary,” she said.

    “It’s a very quiet area, so it’s a little alarming for this to be happening.”

    Daniel Kenward lives a few houses down and also heard gunshots before police cars arrived and he saw a man lying on the grass outside. The man appeared to be older with white or grey hair, he said.

    About 45 minutes later, he heard a sound of “anguish,” and his wife looked out the window and saw an older woman hugging someone, Kenward added.

    “I don’t know what her relationship was to him or anything like that. I just know she was upset. You know that sound,” he said.

    — By Daniela Germano in Edmonton and Laura Kane in Vancouver

    The Canadian Press


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    National

    Ceremonies, vigils planned in Toronto to honour victims of deadly van attack

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  • TORONTO — Ceremonies and vigils are planned today to honour those killed or injured in last year’s deadly van attack in north Toronto.

    The City of Toronto is holding an event at the Mel Lastman Square Amphitheatre at 1:30 p.m. to coincide with the time of the April 23, 2018 incident that left 10 dead and 16 injured.

    In the hours before the ceremony, the city is expected to install temporary signs in the area to commemorate what it has dubbed the “Yonge Street Tragedy” until permanent memorials are created.

    The city says consultations on the memorials will begin this spring.

    Events are also planned elsewhere in the neighbourhood where the attack took place.

    The Willowdale community is hosting a moment of silence, an evening vigil and a free dinner, among other events.

    It is also bringing in trauma counsellors and therapy dogs for those who need support.

    The city was gripped with grief in the wake of the attack and more than $4 million was raised in support of the victims and their families.

    Alek Minassian, 26, is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder.

    He is set to face trial next February. 

    The Canadian Press


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    New commemorative loonie marking ‘progress’ for LGBTQ2 people to be unveiled today

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  • TORONTO — The Royal Canadian Mint is unveiling a new commemorative loonie today meant to mark what it calls a key milestone for lesbian, gay, transgender, queer and two-spirited people in the country.

    The agency says the new one-dollar coin pays tribute to Parliament’s passing of legislation that “initiated the decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada.”

    It says the coin, which will be presented in Toronto today, celebrates “50 years of progress for LGBTQ2 Canadians.”

    But historians and advocates are raising concerns about the message behind the new loonie, saying it mistakenly suggests equality has been achieved and largely as a result of the federal government’s actions.

    A group of activists and academics is holding a news conference near the mint’s event today to challenge myths surrounding the 1969 Criminal Code reform.

    York University historian Tom Hooper, who is part of the group, says LGTBTQ people faced continued criminalization over the decades that followed the legal changes.

    He said discrimination against LGBTQ people persists today, noting as examples that trans and queer people of colour still face issues with policing and people with HIV remain subject to criminalization.

    The mint “could have consulted people who have knowledge of this history but they didn’t,” Hooper said, adding he hopes the agency will do so in the future.

    He acknowledged no campaign can compete with roughly three million coins but said the project is at least fuelling a public conversation about LGBTQ history.

    “As a historian, I’m hoping to inform as many people as I can about our history. So in some ways the coin is opening up that opportunity,” he said.

    The mint has said it is largely informed by the Department of Canadian Heritage and its “anniversaries of significance” when it comes to selecting commemorative themes for coins.

    The Canadian Press


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