It was in the early morning hours Thursday when Derek Jensen finally caught up with his four victims travelling on Highway 2 to the Calgary airport.
Jensen's target was an SUV carrying Mitchell MacLean and Tanner Craswell, two college students who had just finished exams and were on their way home to P.E.I. for the holidays. Also in the car was Jensen's ex-girlfriend, Tabitha Stepple, and a friend of hers named Shayna Conway, who was at the wheel.
Jensen, 21, had followed the group from Lethbridge, Alta., apparently looking for Stepple. He found them at a Claresholm 7-Eleven store moments before shooting them and taking his own life, RCMP said Saturday.
While there was no confrontation at the store, RCMP said, Jensen rammed the rear end of the SUV roughly 1.5 kilometres north of Claresholm at about 3 a.m. MT.
Conway stopped the SUV and got out. RCMP say it is not known at this time whether she was aware who had collided with her.
Jensen exited his Pontiac Sunfire as well and shot Conway numerous times with a Heckler & Koch 9-mm handgun, RCMP said.
Jensen then walked up to the vehicle, which still contained Conway's boyfriend, Tanner Craswell, as well as Stepple and Craswell's best friend, Mitch MacLean. Jensen fired numerous rounds into the car, killing Craswell and Stepple where they sat.
Although MacLean was also shot, he got out of the vehicle and was later found by police a short distance away in a ditch on the eastern side of the highway.
He was taken by ambulance to the Claresholm Hospital and later transported by STARS air ambulance to the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary. MacLean succumbed to his wounds before he arrived.
After shooting the four people, Jensen turned his gun on himself while still at the scene and committed suicide, police said.
Two other firearms were found in his car when searched by police: a loaded 12-gauge shotgun and a loaded Winchester rifle.
"There was definitely a certain amount of planning in this — no one drives around with three loaded weapons," RCMP spokesman Sgt. Patrick Webb said.
Conway was able to call for help and was located at the scene by RCMP where she provided a short version of what had occurred.
She was immediately treated by EMS and transported to Claresholm Hospital, but due to her serious life-threatening injuries was taken to Calgary for surgery. She is expected to make a full recovery.
Catching flight to P.E.I. for Christmas
MacLean, 20, and Craswell, 22, left their residence in Lethbridge shortly before 1 a.m. Thursday and were heading to the Calgary airport to fly home to P.E.I. for Christmas. The two baseball players had been training in Alberta.
Kevin Kvame, the manager of the Lethbridge Bulls baseball team on which the two young men played, said Tanner had just celebrated his 22nd birthday on Wednesday night.
"That was one of the reasons he ended up lining up transportation to go to Calgary that time of the day — because he was out celebrating his 22nd birthday and wanted to go up with his girlfriend and her friend," he said. "I'd offered to take them up earlier if they wanted to go, but they wanted to be with their friends that last night in the city before they went home."
They were driven by Conway, 21, in a vehicle owned by Stepple, 21.
Teammates of Craswell and MacLean are finding it hard to cope with the news.
"The hardest thing is just thinking that you are never going see those guys again," said Mark Clauson. "You know, you are expecting to see them when they come home from Christmas. I can't imagine everyone back East who hasn't seen them, their family and friends."
A memorial game of catch has been organized by the former high school of Craswell and Maclean for Monday.
Jensen and Stepple had previously lived together and had been in a relationship that had recently ended. There was no domestic violence reported to either the RCMP or Lethbridge police regarding their separation, and neither Jensen nor Stepple were known to police.
The Calgary RCMP Serious Crimes Branch, in partnership with Lethbridge Regional Police, searched the residence that had been shared by Jensen and Stepple on Thursday and seized a firearm that had not been used in the highway shooting, as well as ammunition. All of the seized weapons were registered to Jensen.
Amanda Sequeira had known Jensen since high school.
"Derek was such a kind-hearted person, he always had something nice to say," she said. "So to hear something like this happen is really ... hard to comprehend."
Sequeira said Jensen never got emotional and didn't seem like a violent person.
"It doesn't add up," she said. "It doesn't make sense."