Megan Nixon and son, Brayden Steves, 5, were among the hundred who gathered in Penticton’s Gyro Park for the candle light vigil remembering the victims from the April 15 shooting. The evening was hosted by the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and the Ookanake Friendship Centre. (Jordyn Thomson - Western News)

4 victims killed in Penticton shooting spree remembered at vigil

John Brittain, 68, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder

Family and friends are remembering neighbours who were gunned down in Penticton as the small city in British Columbia’s south Okanagan held a vigil Wednesday for the four victims.

Jeff Schwarz says his uncle Rudi Winter, 71, was a gentle person who liked to keep the peace.

“Rudi wouldn’t hurt a fly. He’s the most calm, peaceful guy you’d ever meet. If there was a confrontation, he wouldn’t address it,” he said, adding that Winter “pretty much” raised him.

READ MORE: John Brittain facing 4 murder charges after 4 people killed in shooting spree

READ MORE: Man killed in Penticton shooting remembered as a ‘nice guy’

Winter was fatally shot on Monday while helping a friend with some yard work in downtown Penticton. Soon after, another man and two women in their 60s and 70s were shot in a residential neighbourhood, RCMP said.

Supt. Ted De Jager said a suspect walked into the Penticton RCMP detachment and surrendered about one hour after police first received a report of a possible shooting.

John Brittain, 68, a former employee in the city’s engineering department, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder. None of the allegations against him has been tested in court.

A lawyer who represented Brittain during a court appearance on Tuesday could not immediately be reached for comment.

READ MORE: Friend of man accused of killing four people in Penticton in ‘absolute shock’

VIDEO: Penticton mayor recounts accused shooter’s time working at city

Neighbours of Barry and Susan Wonch, who a family member confirmed were also victims of the shootings, described the retired couple as warm and friendly people.

The Wonches moved to Penticton from Osoyoos in recent years, said Wally Murphy.

“They were probably the best neighbours we ever had,” said Murphy, adding he knew Barry for 14 years.

“I knew where the tools were in his garage and he knew where the tools were in mine.”

John Maxwell lived across the street from the Wonches in Osoyoos before they moved to Penticton.

He said Susan was a wonderful cook and the couple liked to organize neighbourhood parties.

“They were both the nicest people you could ever, ever ask to be with. When we went over, they really made you feel like somebody,” he said.

More than 100 people gathered in a downtown park for a candlelight vigil Wednesday night.

Organizers said the event was intended as a way for community members to support one another through the tragedy.

Kim Kirkham, executive director of the Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce, said the small city of 34,000 nestled between two lakes and rolling mountains is having trouble coming to terms with the violence.

“Any store I walk into — restaurants, coffee shops — people are talking about it. It’s affected everyone,” she said.

“Penticton’s not very big, so you either knew them or you know somebody who knew them. It’s a tough thing to fathom, happening in our small community.”

Matthew Baran, executive director of the Ooknakane Friendship Centre in Penticton, said it’s not uncommon for the community to rally behind others in times of tragedy.

“It’s a very caring community organically, that’s just normal,” he said.

He said the friendship centre already offers different types of healing support so it seemed natural to organize the vigil with the local chamber of commerce.

“We’re a strong community and this is part of the process of how we will rise up from this,” he said.

READ MORE: Alleged Penticton gunman seen ‘angrily yelling’ before opening fire

READ MORE: Grieving the four killed in Penticton shooting will take time, expert says

Members of the crowd raised candles in the air and embraced one another as some of the community’s leaders gave brief addresses.

Some said came to show support for the children of the victims. Gina Hansinger went to high school with one of the victim’s sons, while Bernie Burger said he works with Winter’s daughter.

“As a friend I was glad to see her, to show my support,” he said.

Carleen and Gordon Dyck said they came to give the family support even though they didn’t know them.

“We’re just devastated at the idea of what can happen in a beautiful town like Penticton and realize how much stress and anxiety there is in the world today,” she said.

Carrie Crossman said she grew up in Penticton and the violence was unprecedented.

“I think everyone’s feeling the same way, shocked, just senseless,” she said.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

BC Parks acquires private land in Cape Scott Provincial Park

Land previously held by B.C. land and cattle mogul Rudy Nielsen

Family Literacy Society surveying essential skills among displaced workers

Survey results will help get training opportunities to fufill real needs on the north Island

A thousand items donated to the Port Hardy RCMP’s summer toy drive

‘Building strong relationships with the people of our communities is fundamental to our success here’

VIDEO: Rescued eagle released back into the wild

The three-year-old female had been mired in grease at the landfill, but recovered with gusto

U’mista Cultural Centre will host a native art contest to raise funds for artists

All artists of Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw descent are being called to participate in the contest to be held on August 28

B.C. records 30-50 new COVID-19 cases a day over weekend, no new deaths

Many of those testing positive were identified by contact tracing for being linked to other confirmed infections

Five B.C. First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

Rent-relief program becomes new front in fight between Liberals, opposition

Opposition trying to draw parallels between decision to have Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. run program and the WE controversy

Ottawa sets minimum unemployment rate at 13.1% for EI calculation

Statistics Canada says the unemployment rate was 10.9 per cent in July

Cougar euthanized after attacking little dog in Qualicum area

Owner freed pet by whacking big cat, but dog didn’t survive the attack

$45K in donations received after couple’s sudden death in Tulameen

Sarah MacDermid, 31, and Casey Bussiere, 37, died August long weekend

Famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer brings movements of joy to Long Beach

Internet-famous dancer is exploring Vancouver Island, visiting the B.C. Legislature and more

Battle of Fairy Creek: blockade launched to save Vancouver Island old-growth

‘Forest Defenders’ occupy road to prevent logging company from reaching Port Renfrew-area watershed

Most Read