Matthew de Grood, the man suspected of fatally stabbing five people in their 20s at a northwest Calgary house party, has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder.
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The charges against de Grood came following the early-morning stabbing deaths of four men and a woman in the city’s Brentwood neighbourhood, just north of the University of Calgary campus. De Grood is the son of a veteran Calgary police officer, according to police.
Neither the victims nor the suspect have any history with police, said Calgary Police Services Chief Rick Hanson.
The stabbings happened around 1:20 a.m. MT on Tuesday at a house party celebrating the end of university classes, police said.
"This is the worst mass murder in Calgary's history," said Hanson at a news conference Tuesday.
Suspect was admitted to law school
- Joshua Hunter.
- Kaitlin Perras.
- Jordan Segura.
- Lawrence Hong.
- Zackariah Rathwell.
De Grood, who attended the University of Calgary, was planning to attend law school, according to multiple sources.
"We understand the party was for friends and people of the university and the suspect was an invited guest," said Hanson.
The attacks happened shortly after his arrival at the party, he said.
The suspect had a weapon — which police referred to as "an instrument" he brought from work — but investigators believe the primary weapon was from inside the home.
"The suspect arrived at the party, obtained a large knife and targeted the victims one by one, stabbing them," said Hanson.
There is nothing to indicate that there was any incident that led up to the event, or that de Grood had consumed drugs or alcohol. It's believed he came to the party directly from work, said Hanson.
"The scene was horrific," Hanson said, adding it was traumatic for many officers who responded.
University community reacts
Hundreds of people showed up for a vigil at the university's MacEwan Hall, which started at 4:40 p.m. MT.
"Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families who have lost their loved ones in this senseless tragedy," University of Calgary president Elizabeth Cannon said earlier in the day. "The university community has lost a part of its family, and this is a very difficult time for all of us.
"We are deeply saddened by this news, and we will work with our community to ensure our members receive the support that they need."
End of classes celebration
According to neighbours, the people at the house had been celebrating the last day of university classes with a fire in the backyard.
Bermuda Shorts Day festivities to mark the end of the University of Calgary’s winter semester have been a campus tradition since 1960.
Three people were pronounced dead at the scene. A female was found injured on the lawn while two others were taken to hospital in critical, life-threatening condition and later died, officials said.
One other person suffered minor injuries.
The three bodies in the house were taken away by officials from the medical examiner’s office around mid-morning.
Suspect fled on foot
The suspect fled on foot but police arrested him about 40 minutes later with assistance from the K-9 unit. Investigators are not looking for any more suspects.
The suspect was taken to hospital to be treated for a dog bite.
The homicide unit is leading the investigation with assistance from the forensics team as a heavy police presence remained in the neighbourhood Tuesday.
Detectives took several witnesses to a police station to be interviewed.
No previous problems at house
Nearby resident Doug Jones told CBC News he noticed about 12 to 20 university-aged people at the backyard party.
"When it started to get dark, they moved inside, and once inside, you wouldn’t even be able to tell there was anything really even going on. It wasn’t loud at all," he said.
"We've never had any problems over there."
Jones, who lives next door, said he thinks there are at least three students who live in the house. He said his bedroom door looks out on their backyard.
"What really touches me about it is how it can happen. I mean, we never heard a thing."
Jones said Brentwood is an "old-fashioned neighbourhood."
"Nothing ever happens here because we’re in a crescent, we don’t get any other traffic other than people that live here, people that are coming to visit," he said.
"It's pretty shocking, it just goes to show it can happen anywhere."
Neighbour Bryce Timrick says the incident is not representative of the neighbourhood.
"I mean there's certainly lots of student rentals around, and that's true of anywhere around a university, and universities aren't usually places of high crime and violence, right?" he said.
Neighbour Jackie Harrison woke to flashing lights through the window and saw the police tape and news crews arriving on scene.
"I was hoping more that it would be an intoxication, someone partied a little too hard," she said. "I never imagined it would be as bad as it was."
The university is offering counselling to students, faculty and staff affected by the tragedy.
"The University of Calgary is mourning the loss of five young people killed early this morning in Brentwood," the school said in a written release.
They are encouraged to go to the university's wellness centre in classroom MSC 370 or contact email@example.com.
"Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and friends of all those affected," said Raphael Jacob, president of the university's students’ union.