Gatineau daycare parents to discuss shooting
Meeting aims to develop plan on how to tell children about male educator's death
Parents and staff at a Gatineau, Que., daycare where two men were fatally shot Friday will meet Monday to discuss how to tell the children that an employee has died.
Members of the parents committee at the daycare at 225 and 229 Gamelin St. in downtown Gatineau met on Sunday afternoon and another meeting is scheduled for Monday, when the facility will be closed.
The body of a male educator, a 38-year-old French citizen, was found in one of the daycare's two buildings. Police have yet to reveal his identity.
Marjolaine Flynn, a University of Ottawa social work student with two children at the school, said the children loved the fallen teacher.
"He looked for dialogue among them through art, through what they were trying to express, so that the children could share it with their parents at home," said Flynn.
"He really looked for people to be able to be sensitive and to express themselves, and he died at the hands of somebody who was obviously unable to do that."
Flynn said the parents at the school are supportive of the staff and the school director, but need to meet to ensure the message they tell the children is consistent.
"We can't all have different versions," she said.
Police have released the name of the second man found in a separate building as Robert Charron. Police said Charron and his wife — the director of the daycare — were in the midst of a separation, but would not confirm whether or not he was the gunman.
Police have officially revealed little about happened, other than to say they received a call at 10:27 a.m. ET Friday that a man was threatening people, and that when they arrived, they found the bodies of two men who had been shot dead.
Employee shot in nursery
However, police sources familiar with the case confirmed to Radio-Canada a number of details about how the incident unfolded.
They said the gunman first entered the daycare building of the nursery, where five children under age 18 months were present. It was here, they said, that the employee at the daycare was shot.
The gunman then moved to the second building, where staff care for 48 children between the ages of 18 months and five years. Police said he tried to kill the director of the centre, but she managed to escape.
The shooter then entered an empty room and took his own life, out of sight of the children, police sources said.
A shotgun was used in the incident, police also confirmed.
Child says the hunter 'didn't find us'
The daycare's children and staff were quickly led to the house that was their normal destination for fire drills, the home of Estelle and Rhéal Mayer and also Louise Robitaille.
On Friday morning, Robitaille said she knew something was wrong.
"They were sent outside without coats because they didn't have time to put them in coats," said Robitaille. "So they were crying and they were cold, that's for sure."
The children stayed upstairs in the Mayers' residence, were given books to read and the adults gave them hugs and sat down with them, Robitaille said.
She said she didn't know if any of the children actually witnessed the shootings or saw the man enter the building, though she said one boy seemed to understand the situation.
"He said, 'You know the chase man, he didn't find us,'" said Robitaille, referring to chasseur, the French word for hunter.
Parents were asked to wait at a bus while police gathered the children, and by 5:30 p.m., Robitaille said all of the children had been picked up by their parents.
'The whole town's upset'
Neighbours of Charron in Denholm, Que., a town north of Gatineau, said they are shaken and at a loss to explain how it could have happened.
Jeff Pinkos lived down the street from Charron and said he's known him all his life.
"It's shocking," said Pinkos. "The whole town's all upset. They don't know what to take of it."
Charron was known in the community as a jack-of-all trades, plowing snow in the winter and running a sugar bush in the spring. He and his wife had three children of their own, said neighbour Sylvain Bellehumeur.
"It's sad. It's for the kids also. Their kids also. They have to go through all of this. It's not easy," said Bellehumeur.
Gatineau police said anyone in shock and needing psychological help can contact the Centre for Victims of Crime at 819-778-3555 and its 24/7 Help Centre at 819-595-9999.