LANGHAM — A Saskatchewan community northwest of Saskatoon is in mourning after one man was fatally shot and the suspect was likely found dead hours later.
"You never want something like this to happen in your community," Langham mayor Gary Epp said.
"It's not a dangerous community by any means. It's a terrible thing."
The chaos began early Friday morning. Overnight, some residents living near Park Avenue thought they heard gunshots. Then, in the morning, police sirens were wailing down the streets of the town of nearly 1500 people.
Around 7:40 a.m., the RCMP issued a dangerous person alert regarding the shooting. Approximately 90 minutes later, the RCMP confirmed that one person was dead and identified area man Justin Heimbecker as a suspect.
Shortly after noon, RCMP cancelled the alert. According to police, RCMP officers — at a Langham home that had been on fire earlier in the day — have located the body of a man they believe to be Heimbecker, though they are still confirming the dead man’s identity.
For Epp, waking up to news of an active shooter brought back memories of another violent, tragic incident in the town from 2002, when a young woman was fatally stabbed while fleeing an ex-boyfriend.
"We've gone through this before in Langham, years ago," he said.
Throughout the day, RCMP and armed members of the Saskatchewan Highway Patrol had blocked off roads into Langham, and officers were briefly stopping cars as they entered or left the town. Businesses off the highway were also closed and locked, many with employees still inside.
But by mid-afternoon, as businesses were opening their doors again, townspeople were gathering at the Subway sandwich shop to regroup, check in, and find out what happened.
Reached at her home in British Columbia on Friday morning, Heimbecker's aunt Vicky Barton said news of the shooting is "just shocking."
Barton said she hasn't seen her nephew in years, but knows that he is married to wife Josie and is a father of two young boys. When she has spoken to him, Barton said, he was always talking about his family.
"I was listening to the news this morning when I got up, and it came on that this was in Langham," Barton said. "And I thought, 'Well, that's where Justin and Josie live.'
"And then I kept listening to the news, and the next news was that they were looking for Justin, and he probably had a gun.
"I'm just sick about it."
— With Canadian Press files
— Local Journalism Initiative
Thia James & Julia Peterson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The StarPhoenix