Alberta worker admits he tried to kill his boss after layoff

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Alberta worker admits he tried to kill his boss after layoff

A married Alberta father of five admits he tried to kill the man who laid him off from his job as an energy infrastructure labourer.

William Kelly Hawkins, 48, pleaded guilty Monday in Edmonton Court of Queen's Bench to one count of attempted murder and one count of unlawful use of a handgun.  

According to an agreed statement of facts filed with the court, Hawkins worked as a labourer for Robert B. Sommerville Co. Limited. On Saturday, May 23, 2015, foreman Jason Johnstone laid off Hawkins, because he felt he was no longer able to keep up with the pace of the work.  

Hawkins, of Gibbons, Alta. 37 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, was extremely upset and promised to return to the worksite on Monday with a union steward.  

Hawkins returned with a loaded gun

When the work crew gathered at a church parking lot in west Edmonton on that early Monday morning, Hawkins was already there, waiting for them. He had backed his minivan into a parking stall, and when he spotted Johnstone he drove towards the foreman's vehicle and pulled up in front of it.  

Hawkins got out and walked towards Johnstone carrying a handgun, making comments like, "Remember me asshole?" the statement of facts says. Johnstone responded: "Are you serious?" Hawkins raised his gun and pointed it at Johnstone.

The foreman turned around and heard the first shot go off, but wasn't hit. The next shot hit Johnstone in the back of his right arm and went out the center of his bicep.  

Johnstone began to run. Hawkins ran after him, firing three more shots. One of the bullets hit Johnstone's midsection, penetrating his liver and breaking one of his ribs. Johnstone had to undergo emergency surgery, but survived.  He still has a bullet lodged in his rib.

Gunman tackled 

Other workers came to Johnstone's rescue.  One tackled Hawkins, and in the commotion, he dropped his weapon. Two members of the work crew held Hawkins down until police arrived.  

Officers found a handwritten suicide note in the gunman's pocket. Hawkins told police, "If they wouldn't have jumped in, I would've shot myself."  

Hawkins provided a full confession to police.

According to the agreed statement of facts, "The accused stated that he has been depressed and bullied most of his life ... that he was suicidal and was going to shoot himself that day."  

There was one live round of ammunition left in the gun when it was seized by police. The revolver was registered to Hawkins' wife.  

He said the final straw occurred on his last day of work when Johnstone "accused him of not putting equipment away and criticized the quality of his work." Hawkins told police he didn't think anyone deserved to be shot. But at the same time, he didn't think he deserved to be picked on all the time.  

"I didn't wanna hurt nobody," Hawkins said, "but that straw was the one that broke the camel's back."  

Justice Sterling Sanderman accepted the guilty plea. Hawkins remains in custody. He'll be sentenced June 26.