The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, April 16, 2020 7:58AM CST Last Updated Friday, April 17, 2020 8:12AM CST
REGINA — Canada’s top court has refused to hear an appeal from a young man sentenced as an adult for a mass shooting in northern Saskatchewan when he was still a teenager.
The decision has brought some relief to his victims and gives residents of the remote community of La Loche a chance to move forward.
Randan Dakota Fontaine was two weeks shy of turning 18 when he first killed two of his cousins at a home in the Dene village in January 2016.
He then went to the high school and opened fire, killing a teacher and a teacher’s aide and wounding seven other staff and students.
Fontaine pleaded guilty and was sentenced as an adult to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.
Last fall, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal denied his bid to be sentenced as a youth. On Thursday, the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear his arguments.
Fontaine, now 22, has no avenues left for appeal, so a ban on publishing his identity is no longer in effect.
The Parole Board of Canada says Fontaine’s legislated review for full parole is expected to take place in December 2025.
“I didn’t sleep very well last night knowing that this could go 50-50, but I can be sure I’m going to sleep like a baby tonight,” said Phyllis Longobardi, who was an assistant principal at the school and was injured in the shooting.
“It’s the beginning of an end.”
Longobardi now lives in Nova Scotia and hasn’t returned to working in schools.
She said she still imagines Fontaine coming through the school doors with a gun and she has lost trust in people.
“Kids walk by my house and they stop … and they reach in their pocket and you think, ‘Oh, is that a gun?”‘
Charlene Klyne was working as a substitute teacher when she was shot and left with permanent optic-nerve damage.
She’s glad people will finally know Fontaine as the shooter.
“If you do such a horrendous crime, why should you not be able to know his name?”
The Crown had argued the shooting displayed sophisticated planning, while the defence said the sentencing judge did not fully consider Fontaine’s low IQ or his fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
During sentencing, Fontaine told court he couldn’t undo what he’d done, but he would if he could.
Court also heard that Fontaine asks himself every day why he did it. His motive has never been clear.
Defence lawyer Aaron Fox said Thursday that teachers did the best they could for Fontaine, but his client never got the supports and services he needed. “He was a kid who fell through the cracks.”
La Loche Mayor Robert St. Pierre said the case has strained the community, home to families of many of the victims and also the shooter.
“La Loche doesn’t want to be defined by this one tragic incident,” he said. “La Loche wants to be defined by its resiliency to be able to move forward.”
Court heard Fontaine, whose nickname was “Ears,” was a quiet teen who had friends, but didn’t like school work and was attempting Grade 10 for a third time.
He was being raised by an aunt, had no complaints about his upbringing and denied being bullied.
Court heard Fontaine researched guns and did an online search the night before the shooting that asked, “What does it feel like to kill someone?”
He had also been playing video games that night with brothers Dayne Fontaine, 17, and Drayden Fontaine, 13 — his two cousins who lived across the street.
The morning of the shooting, he looked up websites about the Columbine High School shooting in the United States.
After going home for lunch, he went to his cousins’ house. He got a .22-calibre rifle and called Dayne into the basement.
That’s when Fontaine opened fire. Dayne ran upstairs. Fontaine kept firing, hitting Dayne in the back of the head, and Dayne fell to the floor.
Court heard Dayne tried to cover his head and told his killer he didn’t want to die. He was shot again — a total of 11 times.
The younger brother, Drayden, was outside looking for a ride back to school. He followed Fontaine back into the house and was shot in the head.
Fontaine next returned to school, armed with a shotgun and ammunition in his pocket. He fired at students in the main entrance foyer.
He walked into the office and shot 36-year-old teacher Adam Wood, who died in hospital.
As staff and students ran screaming and hid in classrooms and under desks, Fontaine shot and killed Marie Janvier, a 21-year-old teacher’s aide, who was born and raised in the community.
Soon after, RCMP found Fontaine hiding in a school washroom.
He came out and told officers, “I’m the shooter.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2020
Police investigate the scene Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 of a Friday shooting at a school in La Loche, Sask. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson)
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Suspect in Custody After Four Killed, Several Injured in Saskatchewan School Shooting — (National Post Press Reader)
The Canadian Press
Jan 23, 2016
Four people are dead – including two brothers of the alleged gunman and a 23-year-old teacher – and two are in critical condition following what is likely the worse Canadian school shooting since the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre.
About lunchtime Friday, an unknown teenage gunman opened fire at Saskatchewan’s La Loche Community School, located six hours north of Saskatoon.
“There was about six, seven shots before I got outside. I believe there was not shots by the time I did get out,” Grade 10 student Noel Desjarlais-Thomas told a CBC camera crew.
The building was filled with “lots of screaming,” he said.
He said his friends ran past him urging him to get out.
“Run, bro, run!” he recalled his friends saying to him as they fled La Loche’s junior and senior high school. “There’s a shotgun! They were just yelling to me. And then I was hearing those shots, too, so of course I started running.”
Desjarlais-Thomas said he believes one of his friends might be among the dead. “I saw him fall down. That’s when I started running,” he told The Canadian Press. “I didn’t want to look back.”
La Loche acting Mayor Kevin Janvier told The Associated Press that his 23-year-old daughter, Marie, a teacher, was shot dead by the gunman.
He said RCMP told him the gunman is alleged to have first shot two of his siblings before killing Janvier’s daughter. The acting mayor said he did not know if the alleged shooter knew his daughter.
“He shot two of his brothers at his home and made his way to the school,” he said, adding that Marie was his only child. “I’m just so sad.”
Other relatives said they could not believe that Marie had been killed. “Her smile will light up the room on the darkest day,” said Sandie Janvier in a FQacebook message calling her the “sweetest caring person…We lost a loving sister today.
A La Loche resident, who did not want to use her name, said her nephew attended the school and that the alleged shooter broadcast his intentions on Facebook.
The gunman reportedly boasted that he had killed two people and was coming to “shoot up” the school.
My nephew doesn’t know why. He doesn’t understand why a quiet person, who was so happy, would do something so horrible,” said the La Loche woman.
“Obviously, this is every parent’s worst nightmare,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Davos, Switzerland after a briefing by the RCMP commissioner.
At an RCMP press conference, officers would not disclose the number of injured, the ages of genders of the deceased, the locations where they were killed or even the firearm used.
It was at 1 p.m. when officers from the La Loche detachment first received a call that an “active shooter” was inside the building.
The shots were fired inside the Dene building, which is reserved for Grades 7 to 12.
School co-ordinator Norma Janvier said she was in her office when she heard gunshots.
“I didn’t know what was going on…I thought the kids were just playing around or something, like a locker slamming and stuff,” she told The Canadian Press.
At 1:47 p.m., said an RCMP statement, officers located and arrested the male suspect outside the school.
The suspect, described by local officials as a “boy with a gun,” remains in custody.
Premier Brad Wall issued a statement expressing shock and sorrow at what he called “the horrific events”.
“Right now, La Loche is devastated,” said Clearwater River Dene Nation Chief Teddy Clark. La Loche is a remote Dene community of about 3,000 people on the eastern shore of Lac La Loche.
“Both Clearwater and La Loche, a lot of people are in shock. This is something that you only see on TV most of the time.”
Georgina Jolibois, NDP MP for the riding, used to be the town’s mayor and has family members who attend the school.
“As the former mayor of La Loche, I am shocked and saddened by the shooting in the Dene building at the La Loche Community School in my riding,” she said in a statement.
She added that the community “has faced adversity in the past and we will persevere.”
For years, La Loche has been struggling with a suicide epidemic. The annual suicide rate in the surrounding Keewatin Yatthe Regional Health Authority averages 43.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 people – more than triple the provincial average.
Friday’s attack will likely prove to be the worst ever shooting at a Canadian high school.
Previously, the worst act of secondary school violence in Canada came in 1975, when a student and teacher were murdered at Brampton Centennial Secondary School before the 16-year-old gunman turned the gun on himself.
In 1989 at École Polytechnique in Montreal, 25-year-old Marc Lapine shot more than two dozen people before killing himself.
And at Dawson College in Laval, Quebec, in 2006, 18-year-old Anastasia De Sousa was killed and 20 others were hurt when gunman Kimveer Gill, 25, opened fire with a semi-automatic weapon. Gill was killed in a gunfight with police.