Town advocates say Stettler remains a safe community, even after an innocent woman was shot outside an industrial business Monday morning.
“We are very fortunate in Stettler that we live in a safe community,” Stettler Mayor Dick Richards said Tuesday.
“(But) you can never be prepared for a random act of violence.”
The victim, a mother in her 30s, appears to be on her way to recovery, though she remains hospitalized in Calgary.
“First and foremost, our thoughts go out to the victim,” Richards of the woman, identified as Krista Dryden.
He commended Stettler RCMP and other police agents for their concerted efforts to prevent Monday’s incident from injuring other innocent people.
“We thank the RCMP for not having any further violence in this situation,” Richards said.
The incident alarmed residents Monday and it took another turn early that evening when the gunman took his own life, police reported.
As a longtime resident of Stettler, Richards couldn’t recall the last time the town experienced a shooting.
“For generations, (the RCMP) have provided professional policing services for all Canadians and we are fortunate to have them as part of this community,” the mayor said.
For students, local schools were placed under voluntary lockdown as the event unfolded from Stettler to the Castor area throughout the day.
“We were taking all precautions,” said John Bailey, the superintendent of the Clearview School Division.
“Students and staff handled the situation very well and they were very cooperative, and we are very proud of them.”
When the news of the shortly broke shortly after the school day began, Clearview locked down Stettler Elementary School, Stettler Middle School and William E. Hay Composite High School.
By about 10:30 a.m., the lockdown was lifted when Clearview officials learned that the suspect had led police on a hot pursuit east on Highway 12 toward Castor.
At that time, schools in Byemoor, Gus Wetter in Castor, Brownfield and Coronation were locked down unit about 1:30 p.m., Bailey said.
“The police didn’t tell us to do it. We just took these precautionary steps.”
As students in Stettler schools, the victim’s children were especially cared for, Bailey said.
“Our staff worked very well with the family.”
One neighbour questioned the safety of the community.
“This is a small town,” said Catherine Wishart, who saw some of the action unfold near her home just east of town.
“For something like this to happen in Stettler, this makes no sense.”
Living in a peaceful neighbourhood, she wonders whether the shooting could have happened to her or anyone else on that day.
“If it were random, could it have been us, or somebody else?” said Wishart, who described the scene to the Independent as her two her-old son Landon rode his tricycle.
Police confirm the incident was random and reports indicate the victim did not know the shooter.
RICHARD FROESE, Independent reporter