This is part of my ongoing series on Canadian Mass Murders.
On October 30, 2004, self-confessed drug dealer Dustin Joseph Paul snorted four scoops of cocaine through a Slurpee straw to try sober up at a drug-fuelled bush party on the Penticton Indian Reserve.
After snorting the cocaine, Dustin Paul began thinking about his life.
“I was just thinking about how my life hasn’t turned out the way I wanted and how — why did my dad have to die, and what’s up with this life. Like, who put me here, why am I here, is this life even real? I started to think then about death. If this life isn’t real, what’s death? Is it to wake up in a better life, or even a human life?”
At this point he felt pretty good, but Paul was on the tail end of a 24-hour bender during which he consumed 15 rum and cokes at a strip club, at least another 20 beer at various party locations, and massive amounts of cocaine and some marijuana.
After his brief self-inquiry, Dustin Paul walked to his truck, grabbed a 9mm pistol and began shooting people, starting with his friend, Tommy Gabriel. Paul walked up to Gabriel and shot him in the face.
Miraculously, Gabriel survived the attempt on his life.
With one friend down, Dustin Paul turned his attention to a small group of friends. First, he shot Damien Endreny twice in the back and once in the face. Then he shot his cousin, Quincy Paul in the head and, finally, shot Robin Baptiste in the right eye.
The three men died almost instantly.
Billy Louie, Tommy Gabriel’s brother, was standing behind Tommy when he was killed. As his brother’s body fell to the ground, Billy Louie ran down a trail to escape but when he encountered thick brush he could not penetrate, Billy ran for the nearby creek instead.
Dustin Paul ran after Billy Louie and found him in the creek about 20 feed away. Billy was up to his neck in water, doing his best to hide from his attacker. He begged for his life but Dustin Paul “acted like he couldn’t hear me, and then he just — he shot me.”
Billy Louie took two bullets to the arm and turned his face into the water, pretending to be dead.
It worked. Dustin Paul stopped shooting at him and moved on to another target: himself.
Killer Attempts Suicide
As so often happens in unplanned mass murders, Dustin Paul tried to kill himself to avoid facing justice for his crimes.
When Dustin Paul finished shooting at Billy Louie, he put down his handgun, walked into the creek, pulled out a knife and slashed his own throat deeply on both sides before turning himself face down in the creek.
When Penticton RCMP Constable Keith Rogers arrived at the scene he found the bodies of Damien Endreny, Quincy Paul and Robin Baptiste lying on the ground in the picnic area. Someone told him there was another body in the creek, so Constable Rogers headed in that direction.
When he arrived at the creek he saw someone floating face-down about 50 metres downstream. As he waded into the creek, Constable Rogers noticed the person in the water wore a backpack on his back so, when he grabbed onto the body and flipped it over, he grabbed onto one of the shoulder straps and the man’s belt to pull face out of the water.
That’s when Constable Rogers noticed gaping wounds along both sides of the person’s throat.
Constable Rogers tried to communicate with Dustin Paul, asking him if he was hurt, who did this to him and similar questions. Dustin Paul didn’t respond verbally to any of the constable’s questions.
When asked whether there was any sort of reaction at all to his questions, Constable Rogers testified:
“Yes. Every now and then, that he would just turn his head, look up at me. He had a very, very blank dark look in his eyes. I couldn’t tell if he comprehended I was there or understood what I was asking him. And then he would turn and put his face into the water.”
Constable Rogers said Dustin Paul had no reaction except to continue, five or six times, to put his face back in the water. Eventually other constables arrived to assist Constable Rogers and they pulled Dustin Paul out of the creek and placed him in an ambulance.
Dustin Paul was taken to hospital where he remained for three days to heal from surgery to repair the damage of his self-inflicted wounds.
He was charged with three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
At trial, Dustin Paul testified in his own defence.
He said that he was 23 years of age when the shootings took place. At the time he was studying for his welder’s ticket.
His father, a drug dealer, was murdered when Dustin Paul was 19 years old. Like his father before him, Dustin Paul also sold drugs to earn a living.
He viewed himself as a moderate user of cocaine and marijuana. [yet testified to walking around with a baggie full of cocaine and snorting from it repeatedly over the prior 24 hours.]
Dustin Paul lived with his mother on the Penticton Indian Band Reserve at the time of the shootings because he recently broke up with his girlfriend of seven years.
He said he remembered shooting Billy Louie, but had no memory of shooting Tommy Gabriel, Damien Endreny, Robin Baptise, or Quincy Paul.
He accepted that he shot all five people, although he had no reason to be angry with any of them.
He had no explanation for shooting his cousin and his friends, but felt terrible for doing it.
After deliberating for two days and seeking clarification from the judge, the jury returned a guilty verdict on three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder.
Conviction, Sentencing and Appeals
On September 13, 2006 Dustin Joseph Paul was convicted of all five counts after a jury trial in Penticton before Justice Duncan W. Shaw in BC Supreme Court.
On April 4, 2007, Justice Shaw sentenced Dustin Joseph Paul to life in prison with no eligibility for parole for 16 years.
 … Mr. Paul in particular had been taking cocaine, marihuana and alcohol for in excess of 24 hours. He was a local drug dealer and provided cocaine to others who were present. During the course of the night and the next morning, there had been several fights. Although Mr. Paul was not directly involved in the fights, they were between members who were his particular friends and other members who were not.
 Mr. Paul had been a drug dealer for a few years prior to the murders. He followed in the footsteps of his father, whose career as a drug dealer ended with him being murdered. Mr. Paul was not known as a man of violence. However, a few weeks before the murders, he bought a semi-automatic handgun for his own protection as a drug dealer. He kept it fully loaded in his truck.
His truck was at the picnic site, and moments before the murders he went to the truck, took out the gun, and returned to the group with his gun in hand. At this point, he was so heavily intoxicated that he was in what the Crown and defence psychiatrists described at the trial as a transient psychotic state. He proceeded to shoot his victims in the head, mostly from point-blank range.
On February 4, 2011, Dustin Paul’s appeal to have his parole eligibility reduced to 10 years was dismissed, as was his subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
“What happened on Oct. 30, 2004, was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of drug dealing and drug activities in our communities,” said Stewart Phillips, chief of the Penticton Indian Band in 2006.
“That awareness is the only hope we have of working together and eradicating this.”
The triple homicide emotionally devastated families and created a high level of awareness of the drug-dealing activities by organized crime in native communities, he said, and hoped this would be the wakeup call his community needed.
I believe it was.
In 2013, the Penticton Indian Band developed a Comprehensive Community Plan to:
- Establish goals, directions and broad development strategies to guide the future growth of the Penticton Indian Band
- Provide policy guidance for development, programs, budgets, actions and services
- Provide a basis for coordinating general land use decisions
- Provide a degree of certainty for Penticton Indian Band community members and the surrounding municipalities and governments