Father Gilbert Dasna was killed on Friday in St. Paul. Supplied/Facebook
The community of St. Paul, 150 kilometres north of Edmonton, is still reeling over the series of violent events that occurred on Friday as residents gathered in the town's church to grieve over the priest who was shot dead.
Father Gilbert Dasna was killed in the rectory next to the church and a gunman was killed in a downtown shooting that injured several RCMP officers. The suspect in the shooting has been identified by RCMP as John Carlos Quadros, 55, of St. Paul.
As morning mass ended at St. Paul Cathedral on Sunday morning, many of the people walking out of the church bore sombre looks on their faces, still in disbelief over the death of the priest that was supposed to be officiating the service.
“I can’t imagine somebody [doing] something as tragic as this in our town,” said Cecile Lamoureux, who has lived in St. Paul her whole life. “We walk down the street and you kind of feel safe wherever you go. This is the last thing that we’d expect in our town.”
It is unknown whether the two events were related, but the RCMP say there is no evidence to suggest the killing of Dasna was a random occurrence.
Quadros owned a health store in downtown St. Paul called Health Mart 2000. The store is located just a few steps away from the St. Paul Cathedral.
Rudolph Waine, a resident of St. Paul, said he would visit the health store every few weeks. He was in disbelief when he heard that Quadros was the suspect killed in the downtown shooting.
“He was a quiet spoken fellow, not excitable,” said Waine. “He was a smart person. I thought this was very unusual behaviour for him because I’ve known him ever since he opened up the store here… I thought he was a nice fellow. Something must have happened.”
Waine said Quadros had a wife and children, and had opened the health store in 2000.
But the most shocking thing of all, said Waine, was the news of Dasna's death.
“He was just a good person,” he said. “He was caring, he had the community at heart, he had the people at heart. Whenever you talked to him he just took a complete interest in what you were saying. I was very, very shocked about that. We’re going to miss him terribly.”
“He was so involved in many things,” said Lamoureux of the priest. She had sat down and had lunch with Dasna on numerous occasions.
“He was awesome,” she said. “Awesome to talk to. He was a wonderful man.”
The Diocese of St. Paul said Dasna, an associate pastor of the St. Paul Cathedral parish, was alone in the rectory next to the church when he was shot in the chest. The Diocese confirmed he was shot more than once.
Dasna died on Friday, the day that marked the third anniversary of his arrival in Canada from Africa.
“It’s a very tight knit community,” said Lamoureux. “I think everybody is really hurting an awful lot… We’re all quite a bit in distress and shaken up by the whole ordeal.”
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, which is called in when the actions of a police officer result in serious injury or death, is investigating the shooting.
Three RCMP officers were taken to hospital on Friday following the downtown shooting. One was treated at a local hospital and released and two were airlifted to Edmonton. Of the two sent to Edmonton, one remains in hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
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