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Updated: Tue, 15 Apr 2014 19:43:20 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Matthew de Grood ID'd as suspect in Calgary's worst mass murder



Matthew de Grood, the suspect in the murders of five people, graduated from the University of Calgary and was admitted to attend law school in the fall. Facebook

Matthew de Grood, the suspect in the murders of five people, graduated from the University of Calgary and was admitted to attend law school in the fall. Facebook

The man suspected of fatally stabbing five people in their 20s at a northwest Calgary house party is the son of a veteran police officer, according to the chief of police.

Matthew deGrood is in custody after four men and a woman died following the early-morning stabbings in the city’s Brentwood neighbourhood, just north of the University of Calgary campus. 

Josh Hunter and Zackariah Rathwell have been identified as two of the victims. The pair were members of Calgary band Zackariah and the Prophets, which held its debut album release party Saturday. CBC News has not yet confirmed the identity of the other three victims. 

We know that the victims are a 22-year-old man from Priddis, Alta., a 23-year-old woman from Calgary, two 23-year-old men from Calgary and a 27-year-old man from Calgary. 

None of the victims, nor the suspect, have any history with police, said Calgary Police Services Chief Rick Hanson.

De Grood is expected to be charged with five counts of first-degree murder later today.

The stabbings happened around 1:20 a.m. MT on Tuesday at a house party celebrating the end of university classes, police said.

"This is the worst mass murder in Calgary's history," said Hanson at a news conference Tuesday.

Suspect was admitted to law school 

De Grood, who attended the University of Calgary, was planning to attend law school, according to multiple sources. 

“We understand the party was for friends and people of the university and the suspect was an invited guest," said Hanson.

The attacks happened shortly after his arrival at the party, he said.

“The suspect arrived at the party, obtained a large knife and targeted the victims one by one, stabbing them,” said Hanson. 

There is nothing to indicate that there was any incident that led up to the event, or that de Grood had consumed drugs or alcohol. It's believed he came to the party directly from work, said Hanson.

The suspect did have a weapon — which police referred to as "an instrument" — that he carried with him, which police believe he brought from work. 

"Primarily the weapon that was used was one that was obtained in the house," Hanson said. 

University community reacts 

Hundreds of people showed up for a vigil at the university's MacEwan Hall, which started at 4:40 p.m. MT.

“Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families who have lost their loved ones in this senseless tragedy. The university community has lost a part of its family and this is a very difficult time for all of us," University of Calgary president Elizabeth Cannon said earlier in the day.

"We are deeply saddened by this news and we will work with our community to ensure our members receive the support that they need." 

End of classes celebration 

According to neighbours, the people at the house had been celebrating the last day of university classes with a fire in the backyard.

Bermuda Shorts Day festivities to mark the end of the University of Calgary’s winter semester have been a campus tradition since 1960.

Three people were pronounced dead at the scene. A female was found injured on the lawn, while two others were taken to hospital in critical, life-threatening condition, and later died, officials said.

One other person suffered minor injuries.

The three bodies in the house were taken away by officials from the medical examiner’s office around mid-morning. 

Suspect arrested 

The suspect fled on foot but police arrested him about 40 minutes later with assistance from the K-9 unit. Investigators are not looking for any more suspects. 

The suspect was taken to hospital to be treated for a dog bite.

The homicide unit is leading the investigation with assistance from the forensics team as a heavy police presence remained in the neighbourhood Tuesday. 

Detectives took several witnesses to a police station to be interviewed. 

No previous problems at house

Nearby resident Doug Jones told CBC News he noticed about 12 to 20 university-aged people at the backyard party.

“When it started to get dark, they moved inside and once inside, you wouldn’t even be able to tell there was anything really even going on. It wasn’t loud at all,” he said.

"We’ve never had any problems over there."

Jones, who lives next door, said he thinks there are at least three students who live in the house. He said his bedroom door looks out on their backyard.

“What really touches me about it is how it can happen. I mean, we never heard a thing.”

Jones said Brentwood is an “old-fashioned neighbourhood."

“Nothing ever happens here because we’re in a crescent, we don’t get any other traffic other than people that live here, people that are coming to visit,” he said.

“It’s pretty shocking, it just goes to show it can happen anywhere.” 

"The University of Calgary is mourning the loss of five young people killed early this morning in Brentwood," the school said in a written release. 

The university is offering counselling to students, faculty and staff affected by the tragedy. They are encouraged to go to the university's wellness centre in classroom MSC 370 or contact sar@ucalgary.ca.

“Our thoughts and condolences go out to the families and friends of all those affected,” said Raphael Jacob, president of the university's students’ union.

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