Glenn Ironchild carried a loaded rifle into the street on Monday because he wanted police to kill him, according to his father, who said he doesn't blame the officer who shot his son.
"He's speaking and he's also very remorseful for what happened," Glenn Pelletier said of his son. "His intention was to commit suicide by police."
Ironchild, 36, was shot by a police officer after brandishing a Lee Enfield .303-calibre rifle in a busy northeast Edmonton intersection. He remains in hospital with a chest wound but is no longer in critical condition.
Robin Pelletier said she believes her son was having mental health problems.
"I know he was stressed and worried and just depressed," she said. "There was a picture of him of Facebook and he had his head down, and at that point I knew something was really wrong."
Her ex-husband became worried on Monday after he saw some concerning Facebook messages his son had posted.
"Something just hit my gut that's saying it's not right," said Glenn Pelletier, who messaged his son to tell him he loved him and to ask him to call . "I never, ever got those messages back, because in between that time, and an hour elapsed, all of this stuff had already happened."
The two parents drove to Edmonton from Saskatchewan after they learned what had happened. They were able to visit their son in hospital, where he is recovering.
He knows he was in the wrong
"When I first saw him, I was in shock, I guess," Robin Pelletier said. "Just seeing him with those tubes and all the wires, it's a scary feeling.
"He knows he was in the wrong, but whether my sons are in the right or the wrong I will always stand beside them."
Glenn Pelletier said his son told him during the hospital visit that he didn't fire a shot.
"From my understanding, and this is from Glenn, no," he said. "He had the ammunition and he also did have the gun, and he told me straight out that, 'Dad, I didn't want to hurt anyone.' "
Still, he said he doesn't blame police for what happened.
"For the public and the safety, I think that they had to do what they had to do to make sure everybody else was safe, and that he wasn't going to start firing off shots," he said.
"As a father, I want to say, no, they had no business doing that, they should have found a different way. But looking at the whole picture, yeah, I think they did the right thing."
'I need to look at both sides'
It's something Pelletier said he has spent a lot of time thinking about since the shooting.
"If my granddaughter is walking down that street and Glenn decides to fire off a shot, and misses and hits my granddaughter, I'm going to be furious" he said. "I'm a reasonable person and I need to look at both sides of the story."
Pelletier, who works as an addictions counsellor in Saskatchewan, agrees with his ex-wife that their son was depressed and desperate. He feels guilty that he wasn't able to help him.
"I can go out and help all these other people," he said through tears. "But I can't help my son. As much as I want to help my son, I can't, unless he's willing to work with his dad."
The Pelletiers hope the justice system will see that their son needs help and not just treat him like a criminal.
"What he did was wrong, and it was a cry for help," Glenn Pelletier said. "He didn't hurt anybody. Let's try to help him instead of sending him off to prison and coming back and doing the same thing over again. Break that cycle."
Edmonton Police have laid numerous charges against Ironchild, including:
- Careless use of a firearm;
- Pointing a firearm;
- Assault with a weapon;
- possession of an offensive weapon dangerous to the public;
- Unauthorized possession of a firearm;
- two counts of knowingly possessing an unauthorized firearm;
- four counts of possession of a firearm/weapon contrary to prohibition order;
- Careless storage of a firearm;
- Unauthorized possession of a prohibited or restricted weapon;
- Tampering with a serial number.
Ironchild's bail hearing is scheduled for April 6.
His parents have been told they will no longer be able to visit him now that charges have been filed and he is in custody.