A Salmon Arm man says his father, Gordon Parmenter, was shot and killed Sunday morning by a man armed with an “assault-style rifle” at the Salmon Arm Church of Christ in the B.C. interior.
Parmenter was a 78-year-old elder at the church and was targeted in the shooting, according to his son Dave Parmenter.
“A young man just came in in the middle of the service with an assault-style rifle and targeted one man in the church, and it was my father, and shot him,” Dave Parmenter said.
He said the shooter left the scene and returned moments later before church members tackled him to the ground and held him until police arrived.
“[He] came back a second time and was very focused on him again and shot him another couple of times and in that exchange, he shot another man in the leg who happened to be in the way,” he said.
“Myself and a few others wrestled the man to the ground and took the weapon away from him.”
Late Sunday, police confirmed that two people had been shot, one of them fatally, at the church. The second victim was airlifted to hospital in stable condition, police said.
Police were called to the scene shortly after 10:30 a.m., where they said a 25-year-old man had been wrestled to the ground by parishioners.
He was arrested at the scene, and police seized a rifle. The suspect remains in custody, and police say charges are pending.
Here’s a look at the scene outside of #SalmonArm’s church. BC Ambulance says it was called around 10:30 a.m for two patients, but only one was taken to hospital. Second patient’s status is not known. When I arrived, people were milling around in the parking lot crying and hugging pic.twitter.com/G8SETRDhhy
— Jules Knox (@Jules_Knox) April 14, 2019
Parmenter said the alleged shooter and victim were known to each other but a motive is unclear. He said the alleged shooter is “very well-known to our family and was struggling with mental health issues.”
Parmenter said his father was a man of faith, a cabinet-maker by trade, and fostered youth.
“Many years of fostering, many years of service in his church, many years of pouring his heart out to others,” he said.
“I just know that everybody is sad. It’s such a sad thing to happen. There’s lots of victims now and the young man is also a victim.”
Parmenter confirmed his father’s home also burned down in an arson last month.
A video posted to Twitter on Sunday morning showed an air ambulance landing in nearby Blackburn Park. BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) spokesperson Amy Robertson says two ground ambulances and one air ambulance responded to the call that came in at 10:37 a.m.
Witnesses at the scene said people were crying and visibly upset.
Parmenter is being remembered as a loving long-time foster parent.
“From about 2012 to 2018 I was under his care in the foster system. He helped raise me and made me who I am. He was very kind. We would spend a lot of time talking about the world,” said Parmenter’s former foster child Cole Wintringham.