Police call deaths a double murder-suicide

Police have confirmed that two shooting deaths in Conception Bay South Tuesday and a body found Wednesday morning in a Mount Pearl cemetery are connected.

'Cold shivers of course go up your spine,' Conception Bay South mayor says of killings

A body found at a St. John's cemetery is connected to a double homicide at a health clinic in a neighbouring town 2:31

Police have confirmed that two shooting deaths that happened in Conception Bay South last night and a body that was found in a Mount Pearl cemetery this morning are a double murder-suicide.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said around 7 p.m. Tuesday, they responded to gunshots that were fired at a health clinic in Villa Nova Plaza in C.B.S. 

A woman, 35, and a man, 45, were pronounced dead at the scene. The next of kin have been notified, but police said they will not disclose the victims' identities.

The woman was shot inside the clinic, while the man was shot outside, sources told CBC News. The complex includes retailers and office space for doctors and physiotherapists. 

Police removed boxes from the home of shooter Brian Dawe on Chaytors Road in Conception Bay South on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo by Marilyn Crotty)
During the investigation on Tuesday night, RNC officers secured the area around Villa Nova Plaza, and traffic on the town's main road was blocked for several hours.

Police said they identified a person of interest, and later confirmed that a body that was discovered Wednesday morning at the Anglican cemetery on Kenmount Road, about 14 kilometres away from where the double homicide took place, was the killer.

The firearm that police believe was used in the slayings at Villa Nova Plaza has been recovered.

The RNC said it doesn't believe there is a public safety concern, since the incident was not a random act. Const. Talia Murphy said the three individuals were known to each other.

"The person of interest and the female had at one point been involved in a relationship," she said. 

"Right now, it's still too early to tell what the full extent of the motivation behind this incident was," she added. 

The shooter has not been identified by police, but multiple neighbours identified him to CBC News as 43-year-old Brian Dawe of C.B.S. 

Neighbours, workers shaken

Dawe lived on Chaytor's Road in C.B.S., in the Chamberlains neighbourhood. Jillian Crotty, one of his neighbours, said she didn't see him much during the day. Crotty said Dawe's former partner moved out of the house five years ago, and he's been living with his mother there ever since.

She said he usually spent his time in his shed at night, and that he sold furniture and appliances out of his home. 

Crotty said she wasn't entirely surprised Dawe was involved in a shooting, because of what she described as "suspicious activity" around the house for years.

Nonetheless, Crotty said she's still dealing with shock.

"I don't even think I'm coming to terms with it yet," she said. "For something to happen here in C.B.S., I mean, quaint, little town, and everybody knows each other — at least we thought [we did]."

People who work in Villa Nova Plaza were also shaken by the incident.

Jerry Lazarov, who runs Pronto Pizza, said one of his employees wouldn't come into work on Wednesday.

"This is almost 20 years now [we've been] on this plaza, and the first time something shocking like this has happened," he said.

"I tried to reach my delivery driver, who is supposed to be delivering today … and he said, 'No, it's too risky.'"

Police officials had made the unusual move Tuesday night of urging residents in the surrounding area to stay inside and lock their homes. Overnight, they scoured the area for signs of a suspect. Denise Sullivan, who lives in the area with her young family, said she's having a hard time explaining what has happened to her children. 

"It's terrifying, you know, so many questions. We were actually in town, came home, and learned of [the warning from police] when we were at the end of the driveway of our house," she said. 

"And it was just, get inside, lock the door, turn off the lights get upstairs, and the kids were pretty scared. They all wanted to sleep with me last night in my bed, so it's pretty nerve-wracking," she said.  

Police patrol home

Earlier Wednesday morning, armed RNC officers were seen at Dawe's home.

The connection to the homicide investigation wasn't immediately clear, and police eventually left the scene.

Later, the RNC noted that reports of a standoff at that location were false.

Education officials kept three neighbourhood schools closed Wednesday morning: Topsail Elementary, Villanova Junior High, and Holy Spirit High. They were re-opened for afternoon classes.

The council meeting at the nearby town hall was interrupted when councillors learned of the killings.

Police kept lines up around Villa Nova Plaza in Conception Bay South, N.L., where two people were fatally shot on Tuesday evening. (Amy Stoodley/CBC )
"Cold shivers of course go up your spine ... when you learn a shooting has taken place, not just in your community, but just next door to where we were holding our public council meeting," said Ken McDonald, mayor of the town of about 25,000 southwest of St. John's.

The RNC called in multiple units to investigate the shooting.

"The manhunt was huge. They were looking for the shooter as far down as Topsail," said CBC reporter Amy Stoodley.

Stoodley added that revelations of the shooting and news that the suspect was at large had unnerved many people in Conception Bay South.

"People were pretty panicked," she said, adding that many people were anxious when they encountered police roadblocks and could not immediately join their families on the other side.