Edmonton and Las Vegas – A Heartbreaking Week

It has been a tragic and heartbreaking week.

Events in Edmonton and Las Vegas remind us how fragile life is and how it can be taken from us in an instant.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of these terrible acts of violence and to their families and friends who are suffering indescribable sorrow and grief.

On Saturday night, Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, a Somali refugee living in Edmonton, took direct aim at Edmonton Police Constable Michael Chernyk with his car, knocking him several feet into the air. Sharif then left his vehicle and proceeded to viciously attack the injured officer with a knife. The officer resisted his attacker and miraculously survived.

Sharif fled the scene on foot and later reappeared in a U-Haul truck on Jasper Avenue, running down four pedestrians before losing control of the vehicle and being apprehended by police.

He has been charged with five counts of attempted murder, four counts of criminal flight causing bodily harm, and one count each of dangerous driving and possession of a weapon for a dangerous purpose. Terrorism charges could also be laid at a later date.

Then, only 24 hours later, Stephen Paddock – a resident of Mesquite Nevada – shot and killed 59 people and injured well over 500 others from his hotel room window in Las Vegas. The motive for this is brutal act is still unclear but it is now officially listed as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

4 Canadians are among the dead and at least seven other Canadians were wounded – including two Manitobans.

Yet, stories of heroism are also emerging from this horrible incident with many people risking their lives to save others that were injured. Stories of spouses staying with their injured partners while bullets flew all around them. Stories of people using their bodies as human shields to protect others. And of course accounts of the brave actions of the first responders who rushed to the aid of the fallen and wounded amid what many describe as a “war zone”.

Jordan McIldoon, Jessica Klymchuk, Calla Medig, and Tara Roe are the Canadians who lost their lives in this horrifying attack.

The families of these victims and the others injured and killed will be experiencing incredible grief as they struggle to come to grips with the fate of their loved ones. None of us can understand the pain they must be feeling at this moment. All we can do is offer our prayers and support.

While it is incumbent upon us to take steps to prevent future incidents like this, right now we grieve with those who have lost their loved ones.