This is part of my ongoing series on Canadian Mass Murders.
While this is technically not a mass shooting, I’m including it in this collection because it took place in a church and the death toll could easily have been far higher.
At approximately 10:30 am on April 14, 2019, Matrix Savage Gathergood entered the Salmon Arm Church of Christ armed with a rifle. He shot two people, killing one and sending the other to the emergency ward.
Parishioners, including the dead man’s son, immediately fought the killer to the ground and disarmed him. RCMP seized the rifle as soon as they arrived on scene.
Matrix Gathergood faces charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault and disguise with the intent to commit an indictable offence in the slaying of 78-year-old Gordon Parmenter, a church elder.
“Police have determined that at least one of the victims was known to the suspect, and it is not believed at this time the event was religiously motivated,” said Staff Sgt. Scott West, commander of the Salmon Arm RCMP detachment.
Gordon and Peggy Parmenter befriended Matrix Gathergood and attempted to help the troubled youth, reports The Christian Chronicle.
He was “very well-known to our family and was struggling with mental health issues,” said Dave Parmenter, the murdered man’s son.
Paul Derkach, the man shot in the leg during the attack, is mostly recovered from his physical wounds but he still walks with crutches for support.
The emotional wounds are taking longer to heal.
“This is not something that happened and now everything’s changed and we’re carrying on,” Derkach said. “This wasn’t just an incident that happened to that little church over there in the corner of the fairground. This affected everybody in Salmon Arm.”
“This is something that is a long process for us, both collectively as a church and individually, because a lot of different things have happened to each of us. I believe that we are growing stronger, both as a church and personally. Stronger in our faith and our hope in God, because that’s what we’re all about, and stronger in our love for our community as well.”
After the fire, a GoFundMe page was set up to raise money to help the family. A month later the page was updated to be a memorial page for Gordon Parmenter. Donations are no longer accepted at the GoFundMe page, which raised $24,841 to assist the family.
On February 6, 2020, news reports announced Gathergood’s trial, scheduled for three days, would take place on July 21, 2020, at the Salmon Arm Supreme Court. Until then Matrix Gathergood will remain at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam.
The current COVID-19 pandemic will likely delay the start of his trial.
NOTE: This article will be updated as new events unfold in this case.