WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) – Five people were killed in a school shooting in a remote part of Saskatchewan on Friday and a suspect is in custody, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Two people are in critical condition after the shooting in La Loche, which is about 600 km (375 miles) north of the city of Saskatoon.
“Obviously this is every parent’s worst nightmare,” Trudeau said.
Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada, which has stricter gun laws than the United States. In the country’s worst school shooting, 14 college students were killed at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique in 1989.
Extra doctors and nurses have been sent to treat patients in Keewatin Yatthe Regional Health Authority’s 16-bed hospital, said spokesman Dale West.
Teddy Clark, chief of the Clearwater River Dene Nation, said that his daughter told him about the shooting, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported.
“I know there are some casualties and there are some people that are in critical condition that are being medivaced to the nearest cities, I would imagine Fort McMurray or Saskatoon.”
La Loche Grade 10 student Noel Desjarlais told the CBC that he heard multiple shots fired at the school.
“I ran outside the school,” Desjarlais said. “There was lots of screaming, there was about six, seven shots before I got outside. I believe there was more shots by the time I did get out.”
Our country’s heart is breaking. We grieve with – and stand with – the people of La Loche today. Full statement: https://t.co/tWQAaewlX1
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 23, 2016
A cellphone video taken by one resident and broadcast by the CBC showed students walking away from the school through the snow-covered ground and emergency personnel moving in.
La Loche Community School is a pre-kindergarten to Grade 12 school, which houses about 900 students in two buildings.
There was an emergency at the building that houses grades 7 to 12, the school district’s Facebook page said. Both that building and the elementary school were put on lockdown.
In 2014, a teacher expressed concern about violence at the La Loche school, citing an incident where a student who had tried to stab her was put back in her classroom after serving his sentence, and another attacked her at her home.
“That student got 10 months,” Janice Wilson told the CBC of the student who tried to stab her in class. “And when he was released he was returned to the school and was put in my classroom.”