EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — Police on Wednesday were investigating what prompted a man to kill six adults and two young children in Edmonton before taking his own life in a rampage described as the Canadian city's worst mass shooting.
"It appears to be an extreme case of domestic violence gone awry. I think there were some drug and violence issues involved," Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht said.
Police spokesman Scott Pattison said officials have not yet confirmed the shooter's relationship to the victims of Monday's rampage. He said police were waiting for the medical examiner to confirm the identities of all the victims.
Police did not release the name of the suspect, but the daughter-in-law of an owner of the restaurant where the man was found dead said he was Phu Lam, a maintenance man there.
Police said the man was well-known to police and had a criminal record dating back to September 1987. He had been arrested in November 2012 and charged with domestic and sexual assault.
"It's all related to the history, the fact that he was charged with uttering threats previously, and it appears that the murders were planned and deliberate," Pattison said.
Cyndi Duong, 37, was found fatally shot in a home on Monday, while two men and three women between the ages of 25 and 50 and a girl and a boy — both under the age of 10 — were found dead a few hours later at another home.
The suspect was found dead in VN Express, a restaurant in the city's bedroom community of Fort Saskatchewan on Tuesday morning.
The daughter-in-law of an owner of VN Express said the suspect, Phu Lam, was a maintenance man at the restaurant and had a key to it, as well as after-hours access. Huong Tran said the man was her mother-in-law's ex-husband, but she declined further comment.
Duong's body was found around 7 p.m. Monday when police responded to a report of a man entering the home, opening fire and fleeing, police chief Knecht said.
An hour and a half later, officers responded to a call reporting a "depressed and over-emotional" man at another home. It was the same home where the suspect had been arrested two years earlier and charged with domestic and sexual assault.
When officers arrived, no one answered the door, Knecht said. They found nothing overtly suspicious and did not go inside. Hours later, police were contacted by a second person and returned. When they went inside, they found seven bodies.
Pattison said police "can't just breach into the door or enter the residence without due cause."
He also said it appears the killings would not have been prevented had police entered the first time. "It appears that the individuals that were in the house, the deceased, had been there for some time," he said.
He said autopsies will be conducted Thursday.
Investigators have determined the 9 mm handgun used in the killings was a registered weapon that had been stolen in Surrey, British Columbia, in 2006.
"The scale of these events is rare and exceptional," Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson said in a statement. "However, domestic violence remains all too common in our society."
Associated Press writer Charmaine Noronha in Toronto contributed to this story.