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UPDATE: Penticton murder suspect identified

John Brittain, 68, is escorted by sheriffs into the Penticton courthouse, Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Brittain is charged with three counts of first degree murder and one count of second degree murder following a series of shootings, Monday, April 15, 2019 in the city.
Original Publication Date April 16, 2019 - 10:24 AM

PENTICTON - The man who shot and killed four people in Penticton yesterday, April 15, is a former City of Penticton engineer. 

The B.C. Prosecution Service has confirmed that John Brittain, 68, has been charged with three counts of first degree murder and one count of second degree murder. He worked for the City of Penticton as a municipal engineer until at least 2015. He remains a member of the Engineers and Geoscientists of B.C. and listed as an employee of Ecora Engineering and Resource Group Ltd. of Penticton. 

It appears he divorced his wife Katherine in 2014. 

Brittain appeared briefly in Penticton Provincial Court this morning and was remanded in custody for two weeks. He will be back in court on May 8, while his lawyer Paul McMurray seeks disclosure from Crown.

The names of the victims, their relationship to Brittain, nor an apparent motive have been released by police nor are they expected.

Neighbours have identified three of the victims as Susan and Barry Wonch and Darlene Knippelberg, according to a Global Okanagan report.

Rudi Winter, 71, was identified by his wife Renate as the fourth victim. She told the Penticton Herald he was shot around 10:30 a.m. outside a duplex where he was doing maintenance work for a friend.

Court documents only indicate the victims' names by initials that match the names in media reports. B.C. Crown counsel spokesperson Daniel McLaughlin said this afternoon the names were being withheld pending notification of next of kin.

Penticton RCMP detachment commander Supt. Ted De Jager clarified some details of the case at a media conference this morning. He said the victims were two men and two women in their 60s and 70s all of whom knew Brittain. De Jager said Brittain's ex-wife was not a victim in the incident. He said the accused and the victims knew each other.

"Unfortunately, I can't speak up to the actual events that led up to this and that is part of the investigation," De Jager said.

De Jager said police received a call about a possible shooting at about 10:30 a.m. on Monday. After the first shooting on Heales Avenue, the suspect drove about five kilometres to a second location on Cornwall Drive where the other three people were attacked.

De Jager said a man was killed on Heales and the other three victims were found at neighbouring homes on Cornwall. A man and a woman were found in one home on Cornwall and a man in the other.

An unarmed suspect walked into the RCMP detachment about an hour after police received the report of the first possible shooting and surrendered to police.

Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki sent condolences to the affected families. He called the events a "tragic thing," but said he was proud at how the community has come together. The mayor also praised emergency responders including the RCMP in a statement made earlier today.

"This devastating and catastrophic news has shaken everyone who calls Penticton home or who regularly visits our beautiful community," he said. "Yesterday marked an unfortunate chapter in our community’s history but it also demonstrated our commitment to each other through acts of assistance and compassion in the aftermath of tragedy. Let’s continue to support and care for one another as we move forward from the events of yesterday."

RCMP are asking members of the public who might have witnessed any of yesterday's events to contact the Penticton RCMP at 250-492-4300.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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