Saskatoon

'I'm sorry for shooting you,' says La Loche killer in emotional courtroom statement

The teen who shot and killed four people and wounded seven others in La Loche, Sask., last January apologized at his own sentencing hearing Friday.

19-year-old appears in court to read statements to victims and their families

Mounties stand outside the La Loche Community School on Jan. 25, 2016. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

The teen who shot and killed four people and wounded seven others in La Loche, Sask., last January apologized at his own sentencing hearing during an emotionally wrenching moment Friday.

The teen, who can't be identified because he was a youth at the time of his crimes, read out an apology to each of his victims. 

The teen's statement stressed that almost all of his victims who were shot at or killed inside the school were "not targets."

In January 2016, the teenager walked through a school in the northern Saskatchewan community, firing a shotgun. He shot and killed Adam Wood, 35, and teacher's assistant Marie Janvier, 21. Earlier in the day, he had shot and killed teenage brothers Dayne and Drayden Fontaine at a home in the community.

Didn't know some school victims 

The gunman said he didn't know Wood, who was relatively new at the school. He also said he didn't know some of the teens he was shooting at that day. 

I am sorry I ruined your life and took your daughter away.- La Loche shooter

Speaking about one teen, whom the shooter considered a friend, he told the court: "I'm sorry I shot at you. I don't know what I was thinking that day. You didn't deserve to get shot."

He also spoke directly to Janvier's mother, who was in the courtroom.

"I am sorry I ruined your life and took your daughter away," he told her.

Marie Janvier and Adam Wood are two victims of the shooting in La Loche, Sask., that left four people dead. (Facebook)

He also apologized to Phyllis Longobardi and Charlene Klyne, two adult survivors who were both wounded in the shooting.

"You are a good person and didn't deserve to get shot. I am sorry for ruining your life," he said to Longobardi.

"I'm sorry for shooting you while you were sitting in your classroom waiting to teach. You weren't someone who was a target," he said to Klyne.

Neither Klyne nor Longobardi was in court.

Addresses Fontaine brothers' mother

The teen became emotional when talking about Dayne and Drayden Fontaine.

Brothers Dayne Fontaine, 17, (left), and Drayden Fontaine, 13, were found shot to death in a home in La Loche. (Facebook)

He said that sometimes, while sitting in his cell at Kilburn Hall Youth Centre in Saskatoon, he imagines the Fontaines beside him.

He spoke directly to the brothers' mother, Alicia Fontaine, who was in the courtroom.

"I know she forgives me for what I did. I know she knows I am sorry for what I did."

The teen, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, pleaded guilty in October to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and seven counts of attempted murder.

Mayor 'mixed up' about shooter's remorse

Robert St. Pierre, the mayor of La Loche, was asked outside the courtroom if he believed the sentiments expressed in the shooter's statement were genuine. 

"I believe that he believed so," he said.

"I think that when you listen to the hearing throughout... it's pretty consistent that he was remorseful of [the Fontaine] brothers but not so with the others. So I'm mixed up."

During the proceedings, Crown attorney Lloyd Stang questioned a neuropsychologist who examined the shooter about how genuine the teen was in his remorse.

The shooter's defence attorney, Aaron Fox, said afterwards he objected to that.

"Everybody will have to judge it based on who saw it but in my view it's a sincere effort by him to speak publicly about something in which he is very sorry, struggling still to deal with himself."

Aunt of killer testifies

On Thursday, the shooter's aunt said her family has forgiven him, saying he's a changed person now.

"If he was a different person, if he was a violent person, if he was involved in the justice system [before the shootings], I don't think we would have forgave that easily," she said.

"It was almost like something went wrong in his world that caused all of this," said the aunt.

She said his composure in the weeks leading to the killing spree was no different than normal.

"He was the same quiet boy. There was nothing out of the ordinary," she said.

Family bullied him: aunt 

The teen had been the victim of bullying within the family, she said. But while he got frustrated and would "mumble" under his breath, he never got violent, preferring to go for walks to cool down, she said.

He spent much time in his room, playing video games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty.

At Kilburn Hall, the teen is much more affectionate than in the past, giving hugs when family visit him in jail, she said.

"He probably never gave a hug before," she said.

Gladue report ordered

The aunt was the third witness called by the teen's attorney, Aaron Fox, who is trying to get him sentenced as a youth and not an adult. 

Her testimony came a day after Fox successfully petitioned the judge to order a Gladue report as part of the hearing.

That report — reserved for Indigenous offenders — will outline the factors that may have contributed to the shooter's actions and will outline potential alternatives to jail time.

During her testimony, the aunt hinted at some strife within the family.

She said the shooter's adoptive mother — who is not fluent in English and primarily speaks the Dene language — may not have taken his school reports "seriously."

Arguments about school 

The aunt also said the shooter lacked a father, and that police had been called to his house because of one of his adoptive mother's boyfriends.

The teen and his adoptive mother got in arguments about going to school, she said, with the mother forcing him to attend.

In videotaped comments shared in the courtroom last month, the shooter denied having been bullied at school but said he had been "hated" there.

This phase of the sentencing hearing is expected to wrap up Friday. Lawyers still need to make their final arguments to the judge on Aug. 25.

The judge said the actual sentencing will take place in La Loche, as opposed to Meadow Lake, where the sentencing hearing is taking place.

With files from CBC's Charles Hamilton

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