A 60-year-old man was arrested after allegedly killing four people in a “targeted” series of shootings Monday, police in British Columbia said.
The gunman, who authorities had not named as of Tuesday morning, killed two men and two women in three locations within about 3 miles of each other in the city of Penticton, said Ted De Jager, superintendent of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The first shooting was reported at 10:30 a.m., and the suspect had turned himself in by 11:30 a.m., he said.
The victims were not identified, pending notification of their families. But police said they believed the gunman knew all of the victims.
“While the investigation remains active and ongoing, we do believe this was a targeted incident,” De Jager said at a news conference Monday.
The shooting was the deadliest on record in Penticton, a city of about 34,000 people that is about a 4-1/2-hour drive from Vancouver. Throughout the province, mass shootings are rare: It was only the fifth shooting in British Columbia that killed more than four people. The last such shooting was in 1996, according to Penticton Western News.
It was not immediately known what type of gun had been used in the attacks.
Gun owners in Canada must be licensed. Before a license is granted, officials check the buyer’s past for any violent crimes or behavior, crimes involving firearms or violent episodes related to mental illness in the preceding five years.
Handguns, semi-automatic and automatic weapons must be registered with the federal government, but lawmakers eliminated a national registry of rifles and shotguns in 2012.
Last year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau proposed expanding the background review to the licensee’s entire lifetime while resuming the record-keeping for some rifle and shotgun sales, prompting a fierce pushback from some gun owners.
The national long-gun registry, introduced in 1995 in response to a mass shooting of students in Montreal, was unpopular in rural areas but supported by police. Lawmakers in Quebec voted in 2016 to create the province’s own registry, over the protests of gun owners.
Officials have pointed to a recent increase in several gun-related crimes, including gun-related homicides. Canada’s homicide rate reached a 10-year high last year, driven largely by gang-related shootings, according to a government report.
Debates over gun laws heated up in Canada last year after a shooting in Toronto killed two people and wounded 13 others in July. In response, the city council suggested the federal government ban handgun sales in the city, while the Montreal City Council called for a national ban on the weapons.