EDMONTON - The thoughts of staff at an Edmonton car dealership where two employees were fatally shot are now on whether a third worker who was hit will survive life-threatening wounds.
The wounded man was injured Friday morning as a gunman killed a fellow worker at Great West Chrysler. The shooter then apparently turned the gun on himself.
Bart Yachimec, the dealership's owner, said his wounded employee has undergone two operations since the shooting. Colleagues are praying that he will pull through.
"Our prayers go out to the families. We still have one in the hospital that I'm going down to check on. We hope that he makes it, we pray that he makes it. That is the key now," Yachimec said Saturday.
"They operated on him and he came out. They had to take him back in for a second operation."
A police officer who rushed to respond to the fatal shooting discovered that one of the dead men was her husband. Police say the other dead man was the shooter. No names have been officially released.
Great West employees identified the shooter as Dave Burns, whom they say was recently taken off the job for making racially-charged comments. The victim was identified as Garth Radons.
Yachimec declined to confirm the names because of the ongoing police investigation. But he said the suspect had worked at the dealership for more than 20 years and the fatal shooting victim for 15 years.
"I had known the man for a long time. I just can't figure out what happened. He just snapped. Something went awry somehow. I know he was very attached to this dealership," he said.
"We have talked to a lot of people about it and that is what they are all saying. Not when they worked together for years."
One person who knew Burns from Alberta's four-by-four vehicle community said that when he heard about the shooting he just couldn't believe it.
Corey Kruchkowski said Burns helped organize the growing movement in the province to drive off-road vehicles in an environmentally-responsible way. Over the years he helped organize off-road events and helped other enthusiasts form clubs around Alberta.
Kruchkowski said Burns even fixed his truck once at no cost when the vehicle broke down in Edmonton.
"This was a guy who snapped for no apparent reason. It was not like he was a monster," he said.
"This guy obviously was an altruistic person in some parts of his personality. If you met him in the years before this happened you would never think that this was someone who could hurt people."
Friends of the two shooting victims and others who were affected by the violence posted their thoughts on a tribute page set up on the Facebook social networking site.
"Words cant express what I feel towards this tragedy. A senseless act of violence leaving a wake of sadness and tears. Our thoughts and prayers are with your families," wrote Corey Klimchuk.
"I will remember you for your kindness and fun personality Garth. May you rest in peace and live forever in our hearts."
Yachimec said he has expressed his condolences to the police officer whose husband was killed and contacted relatives of his wounded employee.
"We have had Christmas parties and golf tournaments together. It is rough. I have reached out to both families. We are giving all of the support that we can. We are looking after them the best we can."
Yachimec said he spent Friday meeting with staff at Great West Chrysler and at other dealerships in the city that he owns that together employee about 500 people.
Everyone has been offered grief counselling to deal with the violent loss of their colleague. There is already talk of how they will help the families of the victims. A memorial service will also be held at some point, but for now everyone is still trying to come to terms with what happened.
"I went around because we have a trade here. We need each other right now. More so than ever. So if you need help, reach out. Don't keep it to yourself," he said.
The dealership was to remain closed over the weekend.
Autopsies on the suspect and the victim are scheduled for Monday.