Ottawa

Charges laid in shooting, arson in eastern Ontario village of Parham

Police in eastern Ontario have arrested a man in connection with a shooting and a fire that destroyed a 100-year-old church in the village of Parham, approximately 60 kilometres north of Kingston.

Brian Daniel Mosher, 42, charged with attempted murder, arson and firearms-related charges

St. James Anglican Church in Parham, Ont., was destroyed by a fire that spread from a nearby home Sunday night. (Francis Ferland/CBC News)

Police in eastern Ontario have arrested a man in connection with a shooting and a fire that destroyed a 100-year-old church in the village of Parham, approximately 60 kilometres north of Kingston.

Central Frontenac resident Brian Daniel Mosher, 42, faces charges for attempted murder, arson, uttering death threats and multiple firearms-related charges, the Frontenac detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said in a news release.

Mosher was arrested at a home in Hartington, south of Parham, around 7:30 a.m. ET Monday after an overnight search of the area. He is currently in custody in Hartington.

The search began when officers responded to reports of gunshots shortly after 8:30 p.m. Sunday.

Witnesses said Mosher was seen brandishing a gun and shooting at random at a red brick house and the nearby St. James Anglican Church were engulfed in flames.

OPP said one person was treated by paramedics for non-life-threatening injuries. The fire destroyed both buildings.

Several homes in the village were evacuated as a precaution and Highway 38 was closed in the Parham area, with police setting up roadblocks. Police said residents have been allowed to return to their homes and that Highway 38 has reopened.

Brian Daniel Mosher faces charges of attempted murder, arson, uttering threats and multiple firearms-related charges. (Ontario Provincial Police)

Shooting haphazardly

Jordan Lowery, a Parham resident, said he went to check out the fire with a neighbour when he saw a man with a shotgun who yelled "Get the hell out of Parham!" The man then shot his gun, Lowery said, and he was grazed in his midsection.

"My first reaction was to get to safety," said Lowery. "The closest place was my neighbour's house ... I got over there and then I was in the midst of phoning 911 and he shot again."

Lowery said the bullet did not puncture his skin, but did knock the wind out of him.

Another witness told CBC News she saw Mosher walking around shooting a gun and shouting "Parham's gonna burn!" CBC News has agreed not to name the witness because she fears for her safety.

The witness said the 11-hour search reminded her of the shooting rampage in Nova Scotia in April when a gunman impersonating an RCMP officer killed over 20 people.

Parham resident Jordan Lowery said a man with a shotgun shot him in the midsection. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC News)

"It did feel like Nova Scotia, you didn't know where he was," said the witness. 

The witness said that Mosher lives alone, and that police have been to the house before.

Debra Kellar also encountered the shooter. She and her husband were watching TV on their back porch close to the scene when they heard two bangs. When the couple went outside to investigate, they saw the fire.

That's when a man holding a gun took aim at her husband's back as he walked away, Kellar said.

Kellar said the man walked around in his front yard shooting his gun into the air as she and her husband retreated to their home and called 911.

Kellar said she spent an anxious night locked inside as the police searched outside for the suspect.

"It was terrifying all night," said Kellar. "A couple times I thought I heard something on my back deck and I was afraid it was the guy."

St. James Anglican Church is engulfed in flames. Firefighters were forced to watch the building burn as they waited for police officers to clear the scene. (Submitted by Stirling Raymond)

'Gut-wrenching' 

Speaking to reporters Monday morning, Central Frontenac fire Chief James Riddell said firefighters were the first on scene, but retreated after they were met by a man acting aggressively. 

Firefighters stood by until OPP officers cleared the scene, Riddell said, by which point both the home and church were fully engulfed in flames.

Riddell, who responded to the fire himself, said it was "gut-wrenching" to watch the historic church burn.

"It's hard when you have to wait, when you can see it and you want to get there and your crews are there, ready to go."

The fire was brought under control just after 1 a.m. Monday, Riddell said.

WATCH: 'It's gut-wrenching': Fire chief describes loss of historic church in Parham, Ont. 

Central Frontenac fire Chief James Riddell said it was difficult to see flames engulf St. James Anglican Church, which is more than 100 years old. 0:22

In an interview with CBC News, Mayor Frances Smith of Central Frontenac Township, where Parham is located, said the community is reeling at the night's events.

"It's so sad ... to see a community member that has been shooting at people, to see the house go down, and especially the church that was built in 1887," said Smith.

Smith said people in the community are going to be afraid for a while, but she thinks people will come together.

"The community will rally and they'll look after each other, because that's just what they do," said Smith.

Jordan Lowrey, who came face to face with the accused gunman, says it’s a shame that the man seemingly felt he couldn’t reach out to anyone in the community for help. 0:39

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said the village of Hartington is located in Central Frontenac Township. In fact, Hartington is part of South Frontenac.
    Jun 08, 2020 2:00 PM ET

With files from The Canadian Press

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