April 30, 2014 - 1:19 PM
NANAIMO, B.C. - Two employees at a Vancouver Island sawmill were killed, two others were injured and one of their former co-workers was arrested Wednesday after a gunman opened fire in the mill's parking lot and continued shooting inside, RCMP said.
The shooting happened shortly before 7 a.m. at a Western Forest Products sawmill in Nanaimo, about 100 kilometres north of Victoria.
Supt. Mark Fisher said investigators were still attempting to piece together what happened and why.
Fisher said police believed the attack began in the parking lot and then moved into the mill's offices. Four men were shot by the time officers arrived minutes later, he said.
Members of the RCMP emergency response team arrested a 47-year-old Nanaimo resident, said Fisher, though he didn't release any further details about the suspect and he declined to speculate about what may have motivated the shooting.
Police seized a shotgun at the scene, he said.
The company said the suspect was a former employee, but it wasn't clear when the man left the mill and under what circumstances.
Fisher said police believed the shooter acted alone.
"We have no indication that there are any other suspects involved in this incident," said Fisher.
Don Demens, president of Western Forest Products, which is based in Vancouver, confirmed the man was a former worker, but he declined to say anything else about him.
None of the victims' names where released.
The Island Health Authority said one of the surviving victims was airlifted to hospital in Victoria in critical condition and the other was in hospital in Nanaimo in stable condition.
The two other victims were transported to hospital in Nanaimo, where they were pronounced dead, the BC Coroners Service said.
Demens said all of the company's operations on Vancouver Island were closed out of respect for the victims.
"Clearly, we've had a terrible tragedy at our sawmill here in Nanaimo today," Demens told a news conference alongside the RCMP in Nanaimo.
Demens said the company is providing grief counsellors for its workers.
At the mill, crying family members had gathered outside the facility, awaiting news about what happened.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014