The Prince Albert Police Services chief said Sunday’s triple homicide was an “absolutely horrific … incomprehensible” tragedy.
Jon Bergen spoke to reporters Monday afternoon to give an update into the investigation into the Sunday afternoon incident that left three dead, including a seven-year-old boy.
Also found deceased were a pair of 56-year-olds, a man and a woman. A five-year-old girl is recovering in an Edmonton hospital where she remains in critical condition.
Members of the Criminal Investigations Division and Forensic Identification Section remained on the scene Monday, located in the 300 Block of MacArthur Drive.
The investigation is in its early stages, but police do not believe it was a random incident and do not believe there is any risk to public safety.
Bergen gave few additional details Monday afternoon, citing the ongoing investigation and respect for the family.
“Our investigation is still in the very early stages and we have a great deal of information to process before we are able to provide more details,” Bergen said.
“We ask your patience as we work to determine and examine the information. We will provide more information as soon as we possibly can.”
He wouldn’t say whether police are pursuing a suspect, or what the nature of the incident was that the police believe led to the homicides. He did, though, say that police knew enough about where to go next.
He acknowledged that some in the community may question their safety. Bergen said that those people need not fear.
“that is a question the community is going to have, how does everybody know they’re safe?” he said.
“Such a horrific crime occurred — we have enough information hat’s led us in a direction that once we’re able to follow …. To its conclusion, we’ll be able to share more. We’re able to understand enough that we’re comfortable …. We don’t believe there is any more risk.”
Officers were dispatched to the area shortly after 4 p.m. on Sunday. They found all of the victims shortly after arriving.
Bergen said people from the residence were unaccounted for, so others went to check on their wellbeing. Those people, friends or family, Bergen said, made some observations that led to the call to the police.
Bergen declined to elaborate further.
He also declined to answer questions about the victims’ relationships to each other.
“That’s something we weren’t prepared to release yet,” he said.
“We’re really cautious about the amount of personal details we’re willing to share right now because we’re working with the family to make sure they’re apprised first of what information we’re going to make public. At this point, out of respect for the families, we’re not prepared to provide those details yet.”
Bergen said there’s a lot to process for everyone involved.
“It’s a tragedy unimaginable for our community, our staff and the family of the loved ones here who are now deceased.”
Bergen acknowledged there are rumours circulating on social media. Still, he said his force wants to be certain before releasing any more news.
“There is speculation … but we’re examining the evidence to make sure that the answers we do bring are … arrived to from the evidence that’s collected.”
He said the police service is working with the coroner’s office.
He committed to providing an update on Tuesday.
“We want to bring answers to the community as soon as we possibly can. We know an update is important and we’re working towards another update tomorrow.”
News difficult for first responders, family
Bergen said the incident has been difficult for everyone involved, including both those who were on the scene and those who have been working on the case.
“I think we definitely have to support our staff and all emergency responders,” he said.
“I think there’s a lot they have to process and emotions they have to process from what they’ve seen and what they had to do. We can’t imagine what that felt like, for each person that entered into the scene and recognized that there was a need to respond and try to save the life of a child. Our staff definitely took a call that nobody should have to take.”
Bergen said the call will impact the officers who were on the scene, as well as the whole organization, and the entire P.A. community.
“This is something that will absolutely have an impact,” he said.
“It will stamp us in time and be felt for years to come. We will rise up and we will heal and continue to provide the service the community expects when they need us there the most.”
Bergen confirmed supports had been provided to the family as well.
“We had victim services respond last night with us, and they became engaged very early on,” he said.
Gofundme launched to support victims’ family
A gofundme has been started for the family of the victims.
The fundraiser was organized by the aunt of the deceased seven-year-old and the five-year-old who is recovering in an Edmonton hospital. So far, over $3,000 has been raised from 40 donors.
The fundraiser is out to raise funds for funeral expenses, for food for a third child in the family, who is 2, and for travel expenses to Edmonton
“On March 29, (my sister) received the most difficult news of her life,” the gofundme said.
“Her oldest son … has passed away.”
According to the fundraiser, he was born prematurely at just 3 lbs, but was “determined” and “brave.”
The mother’s only daughter was seriously injured and is now stable, thanks to the work of medical teams in Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Edmonton.
“We thank you for all that you have done and continue to do,” the fundraiser says.
It says the five-year-old girl has had three surgeries, “but like her brother, is determined and she is brave.”
The Herald reached out to the organizer of the gofundme but did not hear back as of press time.
This story was updated at 5:50 p.m. with quotes from Jon Bergen