The tragic death of a 10-year-old who was shot in Maskwacis has sent shock waves to the community says Samson Cree Nation Chief.
“This is very much a shock, a shock to everyone, a shock to the community,” said Vernon Saddleback.
“This has affected a lot of people in the community. I don’t care who you are, or what culture you come from or where you live, when a child is lost in this manner, everyone gets effected.”
The RCMP Major Crimes Unit have laid a manslaughter charge against a 13-year-old youth from Maskwacis following a death which was reported on August 5.
At 4:00 a.m., Maskwacis RCMP received a 911 call about a gunshot in a residence. Responding members, with EMS, located a 10-year-old boy dead in the home. A youth who was present was taken into custody and the Major Crimes Unit was engaged to conduct the investigation.
Following an autopsy, the investigation led to a single charge of manslaughter with a firearm was supported. The youth will be appearing in court on September 2 in Wetaskiwin.
Neither the accused nor the victim will be named, police say.
“Due to the nature of the circumstances surrounding this extremely tragic incident, including the delicate ages of the people involved, we won’t be providing further details” says Staff Sgt. Dwayne Moore, acting detachment commander, Maskwacis RCMP. “Our focus is to continue to support the family and the community overall, which has been extremely impacted.”
Saddleback said the tragedy has left many members of the community come up to him and talk about how upsetting the incident has been.
“And (they) cry,” he added.
His advice to people who are struggling with the incident is to go home and hug your children.
“It’s a tragedy you can’t fathom.”
With the ongoing pandemic, Saddleback says, all of society is struggling as is Samson Cree Nation, citing the restrictions and the changes everyone has had to make.
“We have lost a lot of people this year. I don’t know if it’s COVID fatigue or what it is, but its not a good time,” he said, adding the average mortality rate in Samson community is more than 50 people per year. But the community has lost more than 30 people in the first three months of 2020.
He encourages people to show support to each other and use the supports in place. The community has rolled out mobile mental health support, who are available to talk with those struggling in the wake of the incident, especially first responders.
Elders have also been asked to provide support to the community as well.
The chief’s message to the community is that of hope, of prayer and faith.
“Don’t give up, keep praying, we will get through this.”
“Regardless of what’s going on in the world, don’t give up on prayer.”