'The world is watching': La Loche, Sask., braces for decision on fate of school shooter

Almost precisely 25 months since Charlene Klyne saw a teenager open fire through the doorway of the classroom where she was standing, a judge will decide if the shooter should be sentenced as a youth or an adult.

Judge to decide Friday if teen shooter will be sentenced as a youth or adult

A judge is expected to decide Friday if the teenage school shooter that killed four and injured seven in La Loche in January 2016 should be sentenced as an adult. He was weeks away from his 18th birthday at the time. (Jason Warick/CBC)

It's been 25 months since Charlene Klyne saw a teenage shooter open fire through the doorway of a classroom at the La Loche Community School in northern Saskatchewan. Shotgun spray left her partially blind.

A judge will decide Friday if that shooter should be sentenced as a youth or an adult.

Klyne said it does not feel like two years since the shooting happened.

"It's still hard to believe that something could happen like this in a small town in Saskatchewan, and then you hear about the shootings in the States and it's just unnerving," said Klyne, one of the seven people wounded in the shooting spree that took place on Jan. 22, 2016, in La Loche.

"Last week I never slept much after the Florida shooting because you just think, 'Why does this continue? Why are the guns so easily accessible to anybody?'"

Charlene Klyne wants the school shooter who left her partially blind during a deadly shooting spree in La Loche to be sentenced as an adult. (Don Somers/CBC)

Judge to decide youth or adult sentence

The La Loche shooter was just weeks from his 18th birthday when he went on the shooting spree that left four people dead.

The teen shot two brothers — Dayne and Drayden Fontaine — at their home in the remote community, about 500 kilometres northwest of Saskatoon.  

He then drove to the local high school and opened fire, killing 21-year-old teaching assistant Marie Janvier and teacher Adam Wood, 35. 

He pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

Friday's court proceedings will decide if the shooter will be sentenced as an adult and face a life sentence in a federal prison.

Because he was underage at the time, he is charged as a youth. A youth sentence would likely mean 10 years in a youth facility.

He cannot be named because of provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

The four people killed in the shooting, clockwise from top left: Marie Janvier, 21; Adam Wood, 35; Drayden Fontaine, 13; and Dayne Fontaine, 17. (Submitted to CBC/Facebook)

'It seems to be happening more and more' 

La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre said he is trying to prepare the community for what he expects will be a difficult day.  

"A lot of people were hurt, the community was hurt; it was felt across the world," he said.

"It's something that you pray doesn't happen in your community, but it seems to be happening more and more around the world. I mean, look at Florida in the last week."

A teenager there is charged with the deaths of 17 people in a school shooting on Feb. 14.

It will be up to the Crown to convince the judge that an adult sentence is needed in the La Loche case.

Klyne wants the shooter sentenced as an adult. She said a youth sentence would be hard for the victims and their families to take.

"It just means a lot more extra trauma and having to deal with where he is and him possibly being on the street so much earlier," said Klyne.

Concerns about bringing sentencing to La Loche

With the court proceedings taking place in La Loche, the community is bringing in extra mental health supports.

Klyne does not believe the decision should be taking place in the same community where the shooting happened.

"I don't know why they would go to La Loche when there's so many people with hearts broken up there. To take him back there, people just don't know what to say and do," said Klyne.

"The town in general doesn't even know that he's coming there; they just think that they're having the sentencing there, but they don't realize that they're bringing him to the town."

St. Pierre said it will be tough for the small town to again enter the spotlight and relive a painful chapter of its history. 

"It's a difficult time for everybody in the community. Like I said, the world is watching us and this court case is going to be something where there will be mixed reactions. I don't know how I'm going to react," he said.

With files from Olivia Stefanovich and Charles Hamilton