The 44-year-old man who killed three children, an adult and then himself in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., had previously been investigated for intimate partner violence, police confirmed.
Police in the northern Ontario city continue to investigate the shootings, which happened at two different addresses on Monday night.
Police found a 41-year-old dead of a gunshot wound at the 200 block of Tancred Street. They later found a six-year-old, seven-year-old and 12-year-old shot and killed at a residence on Second Line East.
A 45-year-old, also at that address, was brought to hospital with a gunshot wound and the shooter took his own life.
Police also confirmed Wednesday that officers found a long gun and a handgun at the Second Line East residence.
“As these incidents are the result of intimate partner violence, the names of the accused and victims are not being released,” the police service said Tuesday.
During a news conference on Wednesday, Sault Ste. Marie police Chief Hugh Stevenson said he would welcome an inquest into the issue of intimate partner violence.
“I think all governments have to look at this situation and, in light of what’s happened here, treat it a little more seriously,” Stevenson said.
“And what that looks like will come out of people a lot smarter than me.”
Shocking but not a surprise
Norma Elliott, director of community relations and finance at Women in Crisis Algoma, echoed Stevenson’s calls for an inquest.
“I would hope that at this point, our government, especially our provincial government, realizes that IPV [intimate partner violence] is an epidemic,” she said.
“They’re going to need to really show their support to those agencies that are working desperately hard to end violence against women and children.”
WATCH | Sault Ste. Marie police chief calls for inquest into intimate partner violence:
Featured VideoSault Ste. Marie Police Service Chief Hugh Stevenson says he would welcome an inquest into the issue of intimate partner violence after five people, including three children, were found dead at two homes in the northern Ontario city on Monday night. ‘I think all governments have to look at this situation and … treat it a little more seriously,’ Stevenson said.
Women in Crisis Algoma runs a crisis line for women and children in Sault Ste. Marie and the surrounding area. It also has a shelter for women and children escaping intimate partner violence.
Elliott said the problem has worsened since the pandemic.
In 2018-2019, she said, their crisis line received 2,000 calls.
“During the pandemic, it increased to between 2,500 and 3,000 [calls].”
Elliott said that so far this year, 96 women and children have used their emergency shelter.
She said the news of Monday’s murder-suicide was shocking, but not surprising.
“This isn’t the first time we’ve had this happen within our community, and not while I’ve been working at the shelter,” Elliott said.
“It’s happened a couple of times, but it’s spaced out to the point that I think our community gets lulled back into a false sense of safety.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, Women In Crisis can be reached toll free at 1-877-759-1230.