CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - A man who killed eight people in the Western Canadian city of Edmonton this week spared two babies who he dropped off with relatives before killing his last victim and turning the murder weapon on himself, police said on Friday.
Phu Lam, 53, fatally shot five adults and two children, ages 8 and 3, on Monday in a house that he co-owned with his estranged wife, who was one of the victims, along with her parents, sister and a family acquaintance. He also killed another woman in a different house in Edmonton before driving to a town 30 kilometers (19 miles) northeast of the city, where he shot himself in a Vietnamese restaurant.
Police said that Lam on Monday had dropped an 8-month-old girl, a niece of his wife, Thuy Tien Truong, whom he had already killed, and their 1-year-old son with a relative in Edmonton before shooting the eighth victim, Cyndi Duong, later that day.
“There’s a very good possibility that those children were in the house ... when the homicides took place,” Edmonton Police Superintendent Mark Neufeld said at a press conference. “And, yes, for whatever reason, the children were spared.”
The murder-suicide made the mass killing the deadliest in the history of the city, which was incorporated in 1904. Edmonton, population 878,000, recorded 27 homicides in 2013 and 27 in 2014 prior to the killings.
All the victims were members of the city’s Vietnamese community, which is among the largest in Canada.
While the police said the killings were a deliberate and planned act, they said Duong was simply in the wrong place when Lam arrived looking for another person, whom they did not name.
As police released results of autopsies that confirmed all the victims and Lam died of wounds from his stolen 9-mm handgun, details emerged on the rocky relationship between Phu Lam and his wife.
CBC News said his wife, Truong, asked an Alberta court for an emergency protection order in November 2012 when Lam threatened to kill her and her family upon learning that Elvis Lam was not his son.
The order was granted but was not renewed when it expired in January 2013. Elvis, 8, was among the victims. The other child killed, 3-year-old Valentina Nguyen, was the daughter of 33-year-old Thanh Ha Thi Truong, who was the sister of Thuy Tien Truong.
The news service also said Lam was having financial difficulties, filing for bankruptcy last February after running up a debt of nearly C$500,000 ($424,000).
($1 = 1.1782 Canadian dollars)
Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by Leslie Adler