VANCOUVER, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Residents and authorities at Vancouver Island on Canada' s west coast are trying to piece together why a man opened fire at a sawmill in the small city of Nanaimo, killing two men and sending two others to local hospitals early on Wednesday morning.
Local police said shots rang out shortly before 7 a.m. (1400 GMT) in the parking lot of the Western Forest Products sawmill located on the shorefront of downtown Nanaimo, a city of about 80,000 people, located on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia (B.C.).
The 47-year-old suspect, who the company said was a former employee at the mill, went into the office of the sawmill and started to fire his gun.
Emergency phone calls started pouring in moments later, and when police officers arrived, they arrested the man and seized a shotgun at the scene.
"A lone male suspect was arrested without incident a few minutes later by an Emergency Response Team member," Nanaimo Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commander Supt. Mark Fisher told reporters. He said their early investigation suggests that the suspect acted alone.
"Police officers also quickly worked to search the entire building for additional threats, and injured victims," Fisher said, adding that no other suspects were found.
By midday, police had yet to comment on the motivation behind the shootings while friends and relatives scrambled to get information about their loved ones who worked at the mill, which was operating on one shift and employed about 75 people.
The B.C. coroners service confirmed the deaths of the two victims, but had yet to identify them.
"Following an incident at the mill in south Nanaimo shortly after 7 a.m... two persons were transported by ambulance to Nanaimo Regional General Hospital," the service said in a release.
"On arrival at hospital, both were pronounced deceased. The investigation at this point is in its most preliminary stages," it said.
The mill's CEO Don Demens confirmed to reporters that the suspect was a former employee at the mill, but wouldn' t comment on why he no longer worked there.
He said the mill's management will cooperate fully with the authorities and the company had shut down all of their operations out of respect for the victims and their families.
Nanaimo city councillor Jim Kipp told Xinhua that a horrible feeling came over him when news of the shooting broke.
"I do know some people who work there," he said. "I know some of the people in the management end of Western Forest Products."
He said incidents like this are a painful reminder that violence can happen anywhere, even in small cities like Nanaimo.
The fatal incident in the quiet port city of Nanaimo has drawn national attention, including a message from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa.
"Tragic news out of Nanaimo," Harper said in Twitter. "Thoughts are with the friends and families of the victims."
B.C. Premier Christy Clark also took time out of Wednesday's legislative session to address the incident.
"This kind of tragedy is almost unknown in British Columbia," she said. "Most of us here today cannot imagine what the victims and their families must be going through."
She said the people of B.C. and every member of the legislature from all parties are standing with them.
While so many of the facts surrounding the shooting still need to be pieced together, Kipp said the shooting proves that people who are struggling, for whatever reason, must seek help.
"People have to help each other," he said.
Feature: Sadness grips Canadian city as shooting information trickles out
VANCOUVER, April 30 (Xinhua) -- As residents and authorities tried to piece together information surrounding a deadly shooting which left two killed and two others injured in the small city of Nanaimo early Wednesday, a sense of sadness gripped this quiet coast city where such public shootings are rare. Full story
Two die in Canada's Nanaimo shooting
VANCOUVER, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Two people shot at a forest products mill in Nanaimo in Canada's B.C. province had died of injuries, the British Columbia Coroners Service confirmed Wednesday noon.
The victims were among four people shot at a Western Forest Products sawmill in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island where a suspect was also arrested. Full story