People in Faro, Yukon, gather to honour shooting victims

·3 min read
Dozens of people gathered Wednesday evening in Faro, Yukon, to honour the victims killed and hurt by a gunman in the community a day earlier. Two people were killed and another injured. A local man is facing murder, attempted murder and assault charges.   (Mike Rudyk/CBC - image credit)
Dozens of people gathered Wednesday evening in Faro, Yukon, to honour the victims killed and hurt by a gunman in the community a day earlier. Two people were killed and another injured. A local man is facing murder, attempted murder and assault charges. (Mike Rudyk/CBC - image credit)

People in Faro, Yukon, are still coming to grips with Tuesday's violence that left two people dead, another critically injured, and another local resident in jail and facing murder charges.

Dozens in the community gathered on Wednesday evening for a candlelight vigil to honour the victims.

"I'm here to support the community," said Jonah LaFleur, as he made his way to the gathering near the local school. Residents stood huddled by a fire, many holding candles, as dusk fell.

"The community needs to come together and support one another and I'm part of that community so I decided to show my face."

Details of what exactly happened on Tuesday, and why, are still sketchy. But police confirmed on Wednesday that two local residents were killed and another man critically injured in an hour-long shooting rampage that unfolded at several spots around town.

Wayne Vallevand/CBC
Wayne Vallevand/CBC

Court documents identify the victims as 42-year-old Saenduean Honchaiyaphum, and 73-year-old Patrick McCracken. Both were found dead in separate residences, according to police.

The suspect, 61-year-old Ralph Bernard Shaw, is in custody and charged with two counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault. He's due to appear in court next Wednesday.

Mike Rudyk/CBC
Mike Rudyk/CBC

Mayor Leonard Faber described the feeling in town as "shock and sadness." He said on Wednesday that he'd spent the previous day mostly in a sort of daze of disbelief.

"People just don't know what to think. You know what I mean? It's sort of unbelievable it happened here," Faber said.

Faro, population 457, is about 360 kilometres northeast of Whitehorse. It was once a northern boomtown, home to the largest open pit lead-zinc mine in the world, but the long-closed mine is now a toxic site and a road sign bills Faro as "Yukon's Best Kept Secret."

"It's a tight-knit community and and it's unique because there's a lot of people stayed here through the hard times. You know what I mean? And people love it here," Faber said.

Russell Truman, another local resident, said at the vigil that what happened Tuesday is "the last thing I would ever expect" in Faro.

Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada
Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada

"Most people move here to get away from the big cities, the big problems. Like, we're in the middle of nowhere, you'd never think this would happen in your backyard," he said.

Yukon's premier said on Wednesday that supports were being sent to Faro, including social workers, counselors, mental health nurses, psychologists and peer support workers.

The Ross River Dena Council — based in the community of Ross River, about an hour's drive from Faro — planned a healing ceremony on Thursday for the community. A fire will be tended for four days, in keeping with First Nation traditions.

"I can't express how happy I am that they're willing to come to Faro and do that," Faber said.

"It's just good to see that people care. You know, it isn't just an isolated community. It's showing that they care ... that's a big thing."

Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada
Vincent Bonnay/Radio-Canada
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