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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

    Canada-China relations hit ‘rock bottom’ and at ‘freezing point’: Chinese envoy

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  • OTTAWA — China’s ambassador to Canada says the bilateral relationship is now at “rock bottom” compared to any time since diplomatic ties were first established decades ago.

    In prepared text for a speech Thursday, Lu Shaye said he’s saddened Canada-China relations are at what he called a “freezing point.”

    Lu’s remarks come at a time of heightened tensions following the December arrest of Chinese telecom executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on an extradition request by the United States.

    The Huawei executive’s arrest has enraged China, which has since detained two Canadians on allegations of endangering Chinese national security, sentenced two Canadians to death for drug-related convictions and blocked key agricultural shipments.

    Lu did not mention Meng’s arrest — but he said the China-Canada relationship is now facing serious difficulties.

    He said China has long valued its relationship with Canada, particularly since it was one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with the Asian country.

    “For clear reasons, the current China-Canada relations are facing serious difficulties and are situated at the rock bottom since the two countries have established diplomatic relations,” said a copy of Lu’s speech, which was posted on the Chinese Embassy’s website.

    “It saddens us that the current China-Canada relations are ‘at a freezing point’ and face huge difficulties. The knots shall be untied by those who got them tied.”

    He continued by urging Canada to view China’s development in a “fair and objective” manner and to respect its concerns. Lu also warned Canada to “stop the moves that undermine the interests of China.”

    In recent months, Beijing’s envoy has used strong words when talking about the relationship. In January, he told Canadian journalists that Meng’s arrest was the “backstabbing” of a friend and said it was evidence of white supremacism.

    Lu also warned of repercussions if the federal government bars Huawei from selling equipment to build a Canadian 5G wireless network.

    He made the remarks in Toronto at an event hosted by the Globe and Mail. The document said former prime minister Jean Chretien was in attendance as was Darryl White, chief executive of BMO.

    The Canadian Press

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    Environment

    Keep guard up against hurricanes in 2019, as risk remains potent: forecaster

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  • HALIFAX — It has been years since a major tropical storm wreaked havoc in Canada, but the Canadian Hurricane Centre is warning against complacency.

    The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its hurricane outlook Thursday, predicting nine to 15 named storms this season, with four to eight becoming hurricanes and two to four being major hurricanes.

    Bob Robichaud of the Canadian centre noted that’s similar to last year’s hurricane season, when only two storms hit Canada, including post-tropical storm Chris, which made landfall in Newfoundland in July 2018.

    However, Robichaud warns that some Atlantic Canadians may be forgetting storms like post-tropical storm Arthur, which snapped trees and caused massive power outages in 2014, and hurricane Juan’s widespread wrath in 2003.

    And he reminded journalists attending a briefing in Halifax about hurricane Michael, which flattened parts of the Florida panhandle last October.

    The Halifax-based centre has created a fresh smart phone app, and recommends people begin tracking storms as soon as they start and then monitor for shifts in direction and intensity.

    “What we advocate is for people to really stay in tune with weather information because the forecast can change as the storms are approaching,” Robichaud said.

    Robichaud says studies show that complacency levels rise about seven years after a storm like hurricane Juan, and that as a result people do less to prepare.

    “People tend not to take any preparedness action if they haven’t had any kind of hurricane in recent years,” said Robichaud, a warning preparedness meteorologist.

    “For us it’s been five years since any major impactful storm … so it’s even more important to take the necessary precautions to get ready.”

    The Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo has published a simple guide for Canadians on basic measures to take to prepare in particular for flood risk from extreme weather.

    The centre has repeatedly pointed out that without basic measures, basement flooding can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage during hurricanes.

    Its publications include a Home Flood Protection Program that begin with such simple steps as testing sump pumps, cleaning out eaves troughs and maintaining backwater valves.

    More advanced measures include removing obstructions from basement drains and creating grading to move water away from homes.

    The hurricane season runs from June 1 to early November.

    Robichaud said hurricanes tend to “feed on” warmer waters, and as result the centre is closely monitoring those trends.

    The meteorologist said as summer progresses it’s projected the water will warm in the eastern Atlantic and become warmer than average.

    In addition, Robichaud said the Atlantic Ocean continues to be in an overall period of high hurricane activity that hasn’t yet come to the end of a cycle.

    — Follow (at)mtuttoncporg on Twitter.

    Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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