British Columbia

1 man dead, another person injured after shooting at tight-knit church in Salmon Arm

One man is dead, another person is in hospital and a suspect is in police custody after a shooting at a small church in Salmon Arm, B.C., on Sunday.

Deceased is Gordon Parmenter, a church volunteer — the other victim is stable while police arrest suspect

Police are investigating at the Church of Christ in Salmon Arm, B.C., after one man was killed and another person seriously injured during a shooting on Sunday. (Gary Moore)

UPDATE: 'Lots of people woke up without a father this morning,' says son of church elder shot dead in Salmon Arm

One man is dead, another person is in hospital and a suspect is in police custody after a shooting at a small church in Salmon Arm, B.C., on Sunday.

This undated photo from the Salmon Arm Church of Christ website shows Gordon Parmenter with his wife Peggy. (Salmon Arm Church of Christ)

Family members have confirmed that the deceased is Gordon Parmenter, an elder at the Salmon Arm Church of Christ. Police say the shooting was not religiously motivated.

Police and B.C. Emergency Health Services said they received calls around 10:30 a.m. PT about two people who had been injured at the church. One of the injured was airlifted to hospital, and is in stable condition, said Salmon Arm RCMP.

The local church was hosting an event when a male allegedly entered the church and shot two parishioners, according to police.

Mounties said a 25-year-old man was taken into custody after being wrestled to the ground by a number of parishioners. A rifle was seized.

1 victim known to suspect

Police said there is no active or ongoing threat to the public.

"Police have determined that at least one of the victims was known to the suspect, and it is not believed at this time the event was religiously motivated," said Staff Sgt. Scott West, the Salmon Arm RCMP detachment commander.

Mark Parmenter, the grandson of Gordon Parmenter, said the family knows the person who allegedly shot the elder Parmenter.

He also told CBC News that his grandparent's home was burned in a suspicious fire in March. Police have not said if the two incidents are related.

The Parmenters have been described by people who know them as a large and religious family. Gordon Parmenter and his wife Peggy were also foster parents.

Cole Wintringham said the Parmenters were his foster parents from 2013 to 2017 and he credits Gordon for helping him graduate high school, develop confidence to participate in theatre, pursue music and go onto college.

"He would never give up on any one of us, he often told me to the effect there were no 'bad kids' just kids who fell through society's cracks," wrote Wintringham in a statement sent to media.

"It is for those kids, myself included, that he dedicated his home and life to helping."

'Our hearts are broken'

Marie Taylor, 79, a member of the church, also released a statement to CBC News regarding the violence at the church on Sunday.

"Our hearts are broken, we feel so blessed to have the faith that we have," it said. "It gives us the strength to love and forgive in any situation. We are praying for all the families affected."

Taylor said elders at the church are usually older volunteers who share their time and experience to help other people, both from the church and in the broader community. 

First responders were called to the Salmon Arm Church of Christ on 5th Avenue around 10:30 a.m. PT. (Leah Shaw/CBC)

Her daughter who spoke to CBC News said the congregation is made up of 50 members or less and is a non-denominational Christian church.

According to documents filed with Revenue Canada, the church has been a registered charitable organization since 1967. As of 2018, it had $187,384 in assets, including land and buildings. 

It issued tax receipts for gifts totaling $45,595 in the 2018 tax year.