Michael Gerard Cooper's arrest not surprising to victim's family
Gerry and Patricia Smits' daughter and her fiance were killed in a collision with Cooper
The parents of a young woman killed by a convicted drunk driver are pleased with the Halifax Regional Police and the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation's efforts to identify the man before he had the chance to offend again.
Michael Gerard Cooper was arrested after he was spotted inside a liquor store on Tuesday. Staff at the store recognized Cooper from a photo that was circulated by police.
Cooper is prohibited from consuming, purchasing, or possessing alcohol and entering any place alcohol is sold or consumed after serving a seven-year sentence for driving drunk and killing two young people in 2004.
Angela Smits, 19, and Michael MacLean, her 20-year-old fiancé, were killed in the collision with Cooper's car.
Her parents — Gerry and Patricia Smits — pushed to have Cooper's picture shown to liquor store staff and say their effort was worth it.
"By their actions, they could very well have saved somebody's life yesterday and I just wanted to thank them," said Gerry Smits.
Smits said he wasn't surprised when he heard the news that Cooper had been arrested after leaving a liquor store. He walked around but didn't try to buy anything, according to store staff.
"It just kind of concretes the proof — of our concerns — that he was going to reoffend," said Gerry Smits.
Cooper told the Parole Board of Canada he would not stop drinking and driving, prompting police in Halifax to warn the public about the 55-year-old man's release from prison last week.
Patricia Smits said she feels some relief.
"I'm somewhat relieved to know that all of our efforts that we put into this with trying to protect another innocent family of ever going through what we did," she said.
"He's had the chance to be rehabilitated. Seven years is not long enough in our hearts, but he did have seven years to try to rehabilitate himself and he didn't make any effort to do that.
"If he's done this after only being out a week, we have to make sure that this continues."
Cooper was charged with two counts of breaching his recognizance. He is at the East Coast Forensic Hospital in Dartmouth for an assessment.
His next court date is Feb. 6.