Canadian police found five people dead from gunshots, including three children and the alleged shooter, at two border city residences in a case described on Tuesday as “an unspeakable tragedy.”
The victims were discovered late Monday in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, near the juncture of three Great Lakes bordering Michigan, about 430 miles north of Toronto, after police received reports of break-ins.
A 41-year-old was found “deceased from a gunshot wound” at the first residence. “The shooter had fled the area prior to police arrival,” police said a statement.
Ten minutes later, another emergency call saw police head to another home just 3.7 kilometers (2.3 miles) away.
There they found three deceased children, aged six, seven and 12 years old, as well as the alleged shooter who appeared to have died “from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
Another victim, aged 45, was found injured with a gunshot wound and was taken to hospital.
In a statement, Sault police chief Hugh Stevenson said the incidents were linked and were “the result of intimate partner violence.”
“Our community is once again faced with the tragic and unnecessary loss of life,” Stevenson said in a statement. “The grief the families, friends, and loved ones of the victims are facing is unimaginable. Our hearts go out to them. As our community grieves this tragedy, I urge everyone to please watch out for each other. If you are struggling, or if you see someone you know struggling, please make use of the mental health supports available in our community.”
Writing on social media, Mayor Matthew Shoemaker called the shooting an “unspeakable tragedy.”
In a social media post on Tuesday, police urged the public to refrain from calling the police to learn more about the shooting.
“While we understand our community is trying to make sense of recent tragic events, we ask that you refrain from calling our non-emergency/business line to ask for more information about the incidents,” the police wrote. “We will release updates as our investigation permits, both on our website and via social media. Thank you, stay safe, and take care of one another.”
According to government data, gun crimes in Canada decreased from 2020 to 2021, accounting for “a small proportion of all violent crimes.” But shootings are up from a decade ago.