Roszko shot himself in chest: expert

A firearms expert says at least 16 shots were fired at the Quonset where James Roszko ambushed and killed four RCMP officers near Mayerthorpe almost six years ago.
Police investigate the Quonset on James Roszko's property in Alberta where four Mounties were killed in March 2005. ((CBC))

James Roszko shot himself in the chest while sitting up in the Quonset after ambushing and killing four RCMP officers near Mayerthorpe, Alta., almost six years ago, a firearms expert told a fatality inquiry Wednesday.

Darryl Barr, an RCMP civilian expert in shooting scene reconstruction and bullet path analysis, spent three days examining the scene in the Quonset on Roszko's farm.

He used lasers to trace the paths of the bullets to the source of their origin from where they were found.

Roszko gunned down RCMP constables Anthony Gordon, Leo Johnston, Brock Myrol and Peter Schiemann on March 3, 2005. Roszko had been wounded by an officer moments earlier.

The inquiry at the courthouse in Stony Plain, Alta., is looking into the events leading up to Roszko's ambush of the Mounties on his farm to learn how similar tragedies can be prevented.

RCMP forensic expert Darryl Barr speaks with reporters outside the Stony Plain courthouse Wednesday. ((John Archer/CBC News))
Roszko fired 16 shots during the ambush, and 11 of them hit the officers, Barr told the inquiry.

It was clear Roszko was moving inside the Quonset during the shooting, firing from at least three locations, but Barr could not say at what range the officers were shot. He also said there is no way to determine the sequence of shots.

"You can't get a second-by-second analysis," he told reporters outside the courthouse.

"What we have is snapshots or moments in time and we know that all of those gunshots — at least 16 of them that I found evidence of and 19 overall — we know that they happened probably within seconds or under a minute."

Graphic computer model

A graphic computer model showed the inside of the Quonset, with outlines of the bodies where they were found. A maze of arrows crisscrossed the screen, indicating the path of each bullet. 

RCMP Sgt. Carrie Vander Kracht testified about James Roszko's criminal past. ((John Archer/CBC News))
Three officers lay near the middle of the Quonset. Const. Gordon's body was found near the front of the Quonset, not far from Roszko's.

The inquiry spent Wednesday afternoon examining how seriously police treated Roszko as a threat prior to the ambush.

Sgt. Carrie Vander Kracht, an expert on threat assessment, testified about Roszko's criminal past. 

Vander Kracht read out a long list of Roszko's criminal activity over 30 years, including numerous complaints and convictions for sexual assault and weapons charges.

Roszko was even a suspect in a murder in Alberta in 1976, though no details were given.

Grace Johnston, mother of Johnston, expressed exasperation in her cross examination that the right people didn't have enough information about how dangerous Roszko was.

"There's breakdown here and it cost four lives," she said.

The inquiry continues through the week and is scheduled to end Feb. 1.

Public hearings held under the Alberta Fatality Inquiries Act are limited to establishing the cause, manner, time, place and circumstances of death, as well as the identity of the deceased, police said.

The judge may make recommendations to prevent similar occurrences but is prohibited, under the act, from making findings of legal responsibility.