Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Some of the victims of Canada's worst mass shooting
We lived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, for several years, where I served a historic congregation in the downtown. We lived in the heart of the city but we rambled around the province, including along the north shore of Cobequid Bay where there are many lovely little communities. We've returned to the province a number of times and stopped in off the highway near the community of Enfield to fuel up. Ordinary places, home to regular peoples going about their lives.
These areas were the scenes of multiple crimes on Sunday as an arsonist and gunman disguised as a Mountie and driving a fake RCMP cruiser rampaged through communities on a killing spree. At least 23 people died, most of them random victims, some killed in the act of going to the aid of others. Police are investigating at 16 crime scenes and have cautioned that there may be more victims.
This is almost incomprehensible, and as the days progress we'll learn more, but it will never be enough to explain what would possess a person described as a friendly neighbour and successful business person with no real criminal record would perpetrate such evil.
I use the words "possess" and "evil" because if they fit any situation it is this one. Supposedly the killer was a "police enthusiast" a horrible description given that he killed an RCMP officer and used his disguise to take victims off guard. We don't speak of possession by evil much in our secular society anymore, and seldom in mainline Christian circles. Yet this terrible string of crimes fits anyone's notion of evil, and the term "diabolical" comes to mind. I'll admit that I despise those who manipulate others by using the devil to scare and manipulate others. But there's been nothing in my lifetime which convinces me that evil doesn't exist or that some people don't enter intentionally into the darkness, whether individually or collectively.
My heart breaks for the police officer who died in the line of duty, and her family. I can't imagine the final moments for the others who died, a number of whom were out for a Sunday morning stroll in these days of COVID-19 isolation.
God, be with all who have experienced loss, including family, friends, and neighbours. Help them and all of us was we attempt to find our way as a society. We are not allowed to gather for funeral services or vigils these days, so our individuals prayers for those who are suffering is even more important.