Friends remember victims of Faro, Yukon, shooting as warm and funny people

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Two people who were killed on Tuesday in Faro, Yukon, are being remembered by friends for their quick wit and friendly personalities.

Rachel Rodnunsky said her friend Saenduean Honchaiyaphum, who was known as Sang, brightened the long winters with her colourful disposition and clothing.

Honchaiyaphum was married to Ralph Shaw, who is accused in her death, but the couple separated in August, Rodnunsky said.

Shaw, 61, is charged with two counts each of first-degree murder, attempted murder and aggravated assault. The first-degree murder charges relate to the deaths of Honchaiyaphum, 42, and Patrick McCracken, 73, court documents say.

Police say a man was also found critically injured when they responded to reports of gunfire in the remote community.

Rodnunsky, who works at the town post office, described her friend as a devoted mother and a talented artist.

The town has an art society where Honchaiyaphum sold her work.

"She did a lot of hair accessories, like very bright with ribbon, you know, lots of sparkle and everything," Rodnunsky said.

Honchaiyaphum was the youngest of 10 children and grew up on a rice farm in Thailand before coming to Canada.

"If you got her talking about rice, she would have all sorts of stories," said Rodnunsky.

Honchaiyaphum had two daughters, aged 12 and 15.

Rodnunsky's last conversation with her friend was on Monday when she came into the post office.

"She was all excited because she finally got her internet hooked up and, you know, she was very happy," she recalled.

"She was going to order some stuff for her children. She just seemed very animated."

Mayor Leonard Faber, who is leaving office next week, said he knew Honchaiyaphum and McCracken.

He recalled his first meeting McCracken when he moved to Faro about 14 years ago. McCracken was the public works supervisor and he drove by Faber's house to introduce himself.

"He talked to everybody, you know what I mean? Everybody knew Pat," he said.

"If you didn't know Pat, you weren't going outside."

McCracken had recently retired, he said, adding that the former town councillor was one of the most knowledgeable and helpful people who had answers to almost any question.

"He was the go-to guy when you needed to know something about anything."

McCracken had an institutional knowledge about the town, he noted.

"He was still working," Faber said.

"He always had something funny to say ... He was a pleasure to be around."

Faber said he would occasionally give Honchaiyaphum a kokanee fish that he caught. The last time he did that was this summer.

"I don't normally keep my lake trout but I caught about an eight-pound lake trout," Faber said.

Honchaiyaphum said she would get a bowl for it and Faber said when he showed her the large catch: "She had a good laugh. She was a good person."

Faber and McCracken also bonded over fishing.

"The fish are always bigger when you don't show them, right?" he said, laughing.

"He'd tease you, you know. It's like the grumpy old man things — we call each other names. Make fun of our getting old things. He's gonna be so greatly missed."

Faber said people in town are worried about the man who was injured and Honchaiyaphum's daughters.

"Well, the worst thing is somebody lost their mother," he said.

"We lost friends. A wife has lost her husband, which I don't know how I would deal with anything like that. It's just so sad, and yeah, I'm kind of speechless."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2021.

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

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