PEI

Alberta highway deaths shock friends

Friends of the two P.E.I. men who are among four dead after a shooting along the side of an Alberta highway Thursday morning are shocked and devastated.

3 from Charlottetown involved in an apparent murder-suicide

Prince Edward Islanders are trying to come to terms with the fatal shootings yesterday in Alberta that left two young Charlottetown men dead and a P.E.I. woman in hospital.

Little is known at this point about what happened to Charlottetown's Tanner Craswell, 22, and Mitch MacLean, 20, on Highway 2 in Claresholm, Alta., south of Calgary, as they made their way home for Christmas.

Both Tanner Craswell, pictured, and Mitch MacLean were promising young baseball players.

RCMP said it appears a man committed suicide after shooting four people.

A man and a woman, along with the shooter, were found dead at the scene. Another man died in a Calgary hospital after the incident and a woman — Craswell's girlfriend, Shayna Conway, also from Charlottetown — is currently in hospital and is expected to recover.

P.E.I.'s Matt Hood grew up with Craswell and MacLean. He said the three of them shared a love of baseball.

Hood said not even the snow would stop the two ball players from giving Hood's younger brothers a practice session.

"Tanner and Mitch would always go out in the dead of winter to have a catch with them with snow up to their shins, just to help them out," said Hood.

"That's the kind of people they were."

Hood's brother Seth and friend Morgan Rice said they had been planning to head out for a night on the town Thursday until they got the news about Craswell and MacLean's deaths.

"There's an emptiness inside me. I don't know what else to say. I'm saddened. I cried last night for my first time in years. I cried for three hours straight. I couldn't get over it," Seth Hood told CBC News Friday.

"They went to play the game they love. Now they can't even play that anymore. Every time you go down to Victoria Park now, you'll just think of those two together 'cause they constantly practiced, played there," said Seth Hood.

Shayna Conway, also formerly from Charlottetown, is expected to survive her injuries. (CBC)

Allison MacDonald coached MacLean when he played on the Islanders senior baseball team in the summer of 2010. He said MacLean was preparing to head to the United States to play college ball this winter.

"None of the people that I have talked to have gotten over the shock," said MacDonald.

"And as you can guess, I'm a little bit older and everybody is identifying with the horror that his parents must be going through, particularly at this time of year. From my experience on the field, this was the perfect gentleman who was committed to his sport and it just seems so unfair that it's just all over."

At Colonel Gray High School, where MacLean and Craswell attended, the flag was at half mast Friday.

Staff say the pair have left a lasting impression.

"It's a pretty emotional day for staff and students at the school. A lot of us had a pretty strong connection to Mitch and Tanner," said teacher Rob McAdam.

"We were talking this morning in our English classes how some students stand out and you never forget them," said another teacher, Mary-Beth Bradley. "These boys were like that. They were gentleman above all else."

Team struggling

Hood said it's like he's lost two brothers.

"It's really upsetting to know this happened. It's just a shame it happened to two good people. It isn't fair," said Hood.

Craswell and MacLean attended the Prairie Baseball academy. They lived in Lethbridge with Kevin Kvame, the manager of their baseball team the Lethbridge Bulls.

Kvame said the men were "two very important members of our baseball team that were fun to be around and terribly missed by their friends and families."

Tanner's girlfriend agreed to drop the two off at the Calgary airport to catch a flight home to the Island for Christmas.

"And then she had a friend go up with her to give her company on the way home," said Kvame.

Seth Hood said his thoughts now are also with Conway.

"She's the nicest girl I've ever met. She'd take her shirt off her back for you. And it's terrible this happened cause she's such a nice girl. And I hope she gets out okay," Seth Hood said.

Craswell and MacLean were originally from Charlottetown. (College of Southern Idaho Athletics/Pointstreak)

Teammates and coaches said they've lost two top baseball players. MacLean was named rookie of the year and Craswell was an all-star shortstop.

Coach Todd Hubka said his players are struggling with a lot of emotions.

"How to move forward. Hate for the guy that did this," said Hubka.

"Really, most of them are numb right now. They're mad, they're upset. I think we are going through that right now."

The team has already decided to dedicate next year's season to MacLean and Craswell.

Meanwhile, the Charlottetown Abbies minor hockey team has cancelled its weekend games because of the tragic deaths.

Mitch MacLean's brother Morgan played for the Abbies last season and many of the players grew up playing hockey with Maclean.

There's no word yet on any visitations or funeral arrangements for Craswell or MacLean.