If you had asked me last Monday if I thought there would be a double murder/suicide in my community, I would have given you a straightforward, categorical: never in a million years, no.
While I may sometimes deplore the rural sensibilities of my hometown, it has always been an unquestionably safe place.
In Conception Bay South, it’s
the small town, everybody-knows-everybody atmosphere that prevails.
In a place like that, such violence, especially gun violence, seems altogether unthinkable.
Today, however, my answer would be completely different. Since my last column, three people have died from gun violence, a police manhunt has taken place and a community lockdown has been enforced.
If ever there was a time for pause, it’s now.
Extraordinary tragedies like this one have an effect on people. After the fact, there is reaction, there is fear and there is the inevitable conjecture that stems from both. Just imagine the questions asked, the guesses made and the stories told at the Kelligrews Tim Hortons the following morning.
Needless to say, when a shooting happens at a medical clinic in a town like Conception Bay South, news travels fast. In the Internet age, it travels at light speed.
Facebook and Twitter lit up last Tuesday night, mostly with posts of the “OMG” variety. I learned of the shooting via Snapchat, tuning into VOCM online a few minutes later for an update on the situation.
Tuesday was a case study for anyone with doubts on technology’s effects in a shrinking world.
From thousands of kilometres away in my Ottawa dorm room, I heard about the shootings even before my parents did. And they live 10 minutes away from the clinic where the first shot was fired.
People in Conception Bay South are disturbed by the events of last week, in part because of the lives lost and the family members shaken, but also out of a changed perspective on what is possible in their community.
Who could have foreseen something so violent happening so close to home?
Social media was equally ablaze in the days following the attacks with everything from links to media coverage to sympathies for the victims. However, C.B.S. newsfeeds were most notably filled with posts expressing disbelief and disillusionment surrounding what had happened.
In the wake of a shooting taking place where such an event would previously have been inconceivable, people were understandably at a loss. A re-evaluation of their ostensibly idyllic quasi-suburb of St. John’s was afoot.
Let me be clear here.
No one ever thought Conception Bay South would descend into turmoil after one tragic occurrence, but the very fact that gun violence in a public place could even occur in the first place has doubtless created waves in the community.
But to the people questioning the unwavering security they thought Conception Bay South offered and wary of what gun violence and a double-murder and suicide happening in their community represents, I say this: breathe easy.
However significant this event may appear — and it is significant, that much is undeniable — it does not constitute some sort of watershed moment for Conception Bay South.
Today, C.B.S. remains just as safe as it has ever been, and will continue to be that way into the future.
The events of the past week are not a sign of the times, the beginning of a trend or some obscure rite of passage for a growing community.
Rest easy, C.B.S.
As time will tell, last Tuesday’s carnage boils down to a freak, once-in-a-lifetime occurrence, and nothing more.
Patrick Butler, who’s from Conception
Bay South, is enrolled in the journalism program at Carleton University.
He can be reached by email at