This is part of my ongoing series on Canadian Mass Murders.
“By all accounts, Kevin Douglas Addison was a diligent and competent worker. He did not abuse alcohol or drugs. There was nothing in his personal antecedents that could possibly be seen as a precursor to the murderous violence he unleashed on April 30th, 2014.”
— Justice Robin A. Baird
R. v. Addison, 2016 BCSC 2352
Some mass killings cannot be prevented.
This is a deeply disturbing thought, and one nobody wants to face.
We desperately want to believe there is something we could do, something somebody could do, to prevent a heinous tragedy before it happens.
The harsh reality we must face is sometimes, some people do “just snap” and kill people – with no prior warning they’re heading in this awful direction.
According to Justice Robin Baird, Kevin Douglas Addison’s killing spree is one of those terrible times.
“Nothing … could possibly be seen as a precursor to the murderous violence that he unleashed on April 30th, 2014,” wrote Justice Baird in his 2016 reasons for sentencing.
While impossible to predict beforehand, Kevin Addison’s actions were both deliberate and intentional.
- He sawed the barrel off his 12?gauge shotgun, taking care to file the edges of the cut barrel so they would not scratch his leg as he walked.
- He cut off the stock and removed the hunting dowel from the shotgun’s magazine. He loaded it with five shells, then stuffed his pockets with another handful of cartridges.
- Finally, he cut a hole in the right front pocket of his blue jeans so he could conceal the sawed-off shotgun in his pant leg.
There was nothing random or involuntary about Addison’s actions on the fateful morning he murdered Michael Lunn and Fred McEachern and tried to kill two others.
Earl Kelly, who was air-lifted to Victoria General Hospital in critical condition, eventually recovered from his injuries.
“He is feeling very fortunate and at the same time very saddened by the whole event (loss of his co-workers),” Kelly’s family said in a hand-written note released to the press.[i]
Tony Sudar was shot in the face but only suffered minor wounds. He was released from hospital the day after the shootings.
George Rounis, the killer’s brother-in-law, released a statement on May 1st, 2014, offering the family’s condolences to the families of the murdered and injured men.
“We are saddened and devastated by the events that took place in our community at the Western Forest Products Mill. Our deepest heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to Mr. Mike Lunn and Mr. Fred McEachern’s family, friends and co-workers. We also extend our wishes to Mr. Earl Kelly and Mr. Tony Sudar and their families as they recover from their injuries. We humbly ask that everyone be respectful of all the families affected by these events, including our own, especially the children.”[ii]
The Painful Exception to the Rule
Denial of our individual powerlessness is an understandable response to heinous crimes like this. We hate feeling powerless, let alone being powerless to stop a nightmare before it begins.
Most of the time there are plenty of warning signs a person will resort to violence to address their grievances, whether they are real or imagined.
Kevin Douglas Addison is the exception to the rule.
As we’re learning again with the Nova Scotia mass murderer, the trouble we face as a society is that nobody bothers to report the warning signs when they’re flashing in our faces like a neon sign.
The warning signs were everywhere in the Nova Scotia, but nobody bothered to speak up. As a result, 22 people are dead; 22 families are grieving those terrible losses, and the rest of us are left to wipe away our tears and try to make sense of the senseless.
As incomprehensible as it seems, there were no such warning signs from Kevin Addison, a fact the judge made clear.
I can’t speak for you, but for me the judge’s statement – nothing in Addison’s history hinted he was capable of murder – is the most terrifying sentence of the entire sentencing transcript.
Addison’s Killing Spree
Kevin Addison used to work at the Nanaimo mill but was let go when the company shut it shut down in 2008.
“When the mill started back up, a lot of people wanted to come back, but Addison wasn’t one of the lucky ones who got to,” said mill employee Rex Boden.[iii]
Unbeknown to anyone but the killer, failing to be rehired would fester into a murderous hatred that would leave two men dead and two others seriously wounded.
Early in the morning of April 30th, 2014, Kevin Addison entered the Western Forest Products Mill in Nanaimo, British Columbia, and shot his first victim in the mill’s parking lot before heading inside.
Justice Baird details those events in his reasons for sentencing.
 In November 2010, just shy of two years later, the mill reopened, but with a skeleton crew of only 41 workers. The company had obviously resolved to make a modest start, and to see how things went. Workers were rehired on the basis of seniority. Unfortunately, Mr. Addison was number 42 on the list. Whether it was true or not, Mr. Addison believed, and believes to this day, that management hired people off the street with no mill experience, circumventing the requirements of the collective agreement. He filed a grievance about this which was taken only so far before being abandoned by the union as without merit.
 Mr. Addison’s outward reaction to this setback, however, was unremarkable. He expressed a degree of frustration and upset to his local union chief, but his behaviour was the same as many other workers in the same situation. He never shouted or carried on. He never threatened anybody or swore vengeance. His reaction was typical of any well-adjusted person, and was not in any way disproportionate, aggressive or alarming.
 In fact the jury heard evidence that Mr. Addison put the whole unfortunate business behind him and got on with his life.
In late 2013 Addison fell into a deep depression about not being rehired at the Nanaimo mill, despite having an excellent and well-paying job at a Ladysmith mill operated by the same company, Western Forest Products.
He stopped showing up for work and, despite repeated efforts by both mill and union employees, would not return to work. The out-of-the blue announcement he could no longer work for the Western Forest Products made sense to no one but him.
 Mr. Michael Lunn pulled into a gravel parking lot near the entrance of the mill just as Mr. Addison was walking across it. Mr. Addison shot Michael Lunn dead as soon as he saw him. Without breaking stride, it seemed, Mr. Addison entered the nearby plant administration office, where, in rapid succession, he shot and killed Fred McEachern, and shot and seriously wounded Earl Kelly and Tony Sudar.
 The jury obviously concluded that the evidence of Mr. Addison’s motivations and intentions at the time of these shootings was clear and strong. It may be that Mr. Addison was depressed at the time, and it seems clear that this sort of violence was out of character for him, but there can be no doubt that his acts were consciously and wilfully committed.
 There was also a durable motive established in evidence. Mr. Addison had a grudge against Western Forest Products and, in particular, against three of the men with whom he was principally engaged during this shooting spree — Michael Lunn, Fred McEachern and Andy Vanger. Mr. Addison was convinced, and continues to be convinced, that together these three men ruined his career at the Nanaimo mill. The inescapable conclusion to be drawn from the totality of the evidence is that this conviction had become deep-rooted and ineradicable by late 2013 and early 2014.
 The Crown’s theory was that, over the years, this profound sense of disillusionment turned by degrees into anger and ultimately to murder. According to this theory, which the jury clearly accepted, the April 30, 2014 shootings were entirely intentional and motivated by a desire for revenge.
Kevin Addison has never taken responsibility for killing two men and injuring two others. Throughout his trial he insisted he never meant to kill anyone. He denied shooting his fourth victim entirely. His second and third victims, he testified, where killed and injured when the shotgun “just went off.”
The jury didn’t buy it, and neither did the judge.
 In summary, the jury concluded that Mr. Addison left his house on the morning of April 30, 2014, with a planned and deliberate scheme by which he concealed a modified weapon in his jeans and approached the plant intending to commit murder on arrival. They concluded, and I agree with them, that Mr. Addison intended to kill each of the four individuals upon whom he fired. His actions were precise, calculated, cold, determined, and merciless. He knew exactly what he was doing and why. It is only by grace and good fortune that memorial services were not required for Tony Sudar and Earl Kelly as, sadly, they were for Michael Lunn and Fred McEachern.
Justice Baird sentenced Kevin Douglas Addison to imprisonment for life without eligibility for parole for 25 years for the first-degree murders of Michael Lunn and Fred McEachern.
Because he also tried to kill two people he never even met and could not possibly hold a grudge against, Justice Baird also sentenced Addison to life imprisonment for attempting to murder Earl Kelly and Tony Sudar.
“Mr. Addison will either be locked up in a federal penitentiary or on supervision by the parole board for as long as he lives. He must serve a minimum of 25 years behind bars before he is eligible to be considered for parole, a dispensation that may never be granted.”
The judge also issued Addison a lifetime firearm prohibition order.
- [i] Victoria Times-Colonist, May 2, 2014, Page A2
- [ii] ibid
- [iii] Victoria Times-Colonist, May 2, 2014, Page A1