By Joe Fries
A “dark day” in Penticton that saw four people gunned down may have begun with a dispute between neighbours, says the wife of one of the victims.
Rudi Winter, 71, was among those killed during a spree Monday that lasted less than one hour and ended with the 60-year-old suspect surrendering to police.
Winter was shot around 10:30 a.m. outside a duplex on Lakeview Street where he was doing maintenance work for a friend who owned the building.
The shooter then drove about 10 minutes to Cornwall Drive, where his estranged wife and the Winters lived, and killed three more people there.
Winter’s wife, Renate, said she shares a property line — and frosty relationship — with the suspect’s estranged wife.
“We cut a tree down in our yard and she had a fit, so any time we did anything she had a fit, so we don’t talk to her,” said Renate.
“She called the cops because my husband was putting rocks in between our properties, and maybe his big toe went on her property.”
A neighbour who gave his name only as Greg was home at the time of the Cornwall Drive shootings and said he heard multiple shots followed by a “blood-curdling scream.”
He then went outside and talked to a taxi driver, who told him he’d seen a man with a gun in his hand get into a car and drive away.
Not long after, the suspect showed up in his black Volkswagen Jetta at the Penticton RCMP detachment and turned himself in at the front counter.
“That’s not something that we’re used to seeing, and as part of the ongoing investigation we’ll look at the motive and what he was thinking,” RCMP Supt. Ted De Jager told reporters at an afternoon news conference.
“I can say from an investigative perspective we are glad that he did that so the community isn’t on pins and needles and the community isn’t worried that someone who would do something this tragic and horrific would be out on the street.”
Supt. De Jager declined to identify anyone involved pending notification of next of kin, nor would he speculate on a possible motive. But the city’s top Mountie did seek to assure the public the danger had passed.
“It’s very targeted. We don’t know the motive behind it all, but we do know all of the individuals were known to each other,” he said. “So in that regard, it wasn’t random. It wasn’t somebody just walking down the street with a rifle.”
Supt. De Jager also praised the community for obeying police instructions to shelter in place while the shooter was still at large and for assisting officers, even giving them water in some cases.
“Although this is a very dark day for Penticton, the brightness in the community is everyone stepped up,” he said.
Supt. De Jager said police will be recommending four murder charges — whether first- or second-degree hasn’t been determined yet — to Crown counsel, and police don’t intend to release any further information.
Joe Fries is an editor and writer with The Penticton Herald. OsoyoosToday and The Herald share an informal editorial use agreement.