Hundreds of friends, families and strangers gathered to tell stories, sing and pray at the funerals for three of five stabbing victims, less than a week after the young adults were killed in Calgary’s worst mass murder.
Since April 15, the deaths of Jordan Segura, Kaiti Perras, Josh Hunter, Zackariah Rathwell and Lawrence Hong have cast a shadow over Calgary. The city is still trying to come to terms with the stabbings of the five young people early that morning, during a house party celebrating the end of the school year.
Now, the formal mourning has begun.
Mourners, including Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, paid their respects to Mr. Segura, Ms. Perras and Mr. Hunter on Monday. Funerals for the other two victims, Mr. Rathwell and Mr. Hong, will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.
Mr. Segura’s service was held in the funeral home where the 22-year-old religious studies student had worked part-time. He was remembered as a gentle son and brother with a close-knit circle of friends and family he put first – even enduring teasing to knit tuques for others. He loved debating philosophy and social justice.
His friend Jayda Shreenan remembered a witty friend who loved to order pizza – even receiving a Christmas card from the pizza delivery guy. Mr. Segura also baked bread and cookies, and cooked homemade noodle bowls, perogies and falafel, often sharing with friends.
Ms. Shreenan said she was with Mr. Segura when he died. “Myself and a couple of friends were with him right at the end, and I want you all to know that Jordan was not alone. He wasn’t alone when he was living life to its fullest – he was surrounded by his friends – and right at the end he was not alone.”
Jullien Segura said Jordan, his younger brother, was full of integrity. “He would speak his truth, even though it might create conflict or tension.”
Ms. Shreenan was also close with Ms. Perras. The overarching theme of Ms. Perras’ funeral was her love of friends, family, dance and fashion.
Mourners were encouraged to wear colourful attire to her funeral at Calgary’s First Alliance Church. That was an order from Ms. Perras, who had an earthy, bohemian style.
“I don’t want anyone to wear black to my funeral,” she had said in the past, according to family member Galen Perras, who spoke at the funeral on behalf of the family. He bought a bow tie specifically for the day because Ms. Perras loved them. “I first want to thank those of you who dressed interestingly today,” Mr. Perras said.
Kristy Berg lived with Ms. Perras, who had once studied at Mount Royal University, and recounted her last memories of her friend. It was around 4 p.m. Monday, before the party.
Ms. Perras was looking in the mirror, putting on blush, with her wet blond hair pulled back. She was wearing a purple tank top. “Her beauty could absolutely take your breath away,” Ms. Berg said. “She was always there to pick up my pieces when I stopped believing in myself. Carrying my weight when I couldn’t do it alone. She cared so deeply for the people in her life.”
Josh Hunter’s funeral was held at the Anglican Christ Church in inner-city Calgary. Family friend Peter Gammell said Mr. Hunter – who had just finished the second year of a commerce degree at the University of Calgary – had the intelligence of “an old soul. Like that person is in possession of a secret that overrides all other wisdoms. They seem to know something we don’t.”
Mr. Gammell described the confident 23-year-old as caring and considerate, a brother who made snow forts with his sister Michaela, and an intense music lover who was an integral part of the local funk-rock band Zackariah and the Prophets. (Victim Zackariah Rathwell was a bandmate).
The band members often said “a good drummer needs swagger,” Mr. Gammell said. “Swagger doesn’t just happen. The more [Josh] explored his music, the more his swagger emerged.”
Matthew de Grood, the 22-year-old man charged with five counts of first-degree murder in the students’ deaths, is due to appear in court Tuesday. Mr. de Grood was invited to the party and police allege he stabbed the victims with a large kitchen knife.
His lawyer, Allan Fay, said it is possible the Crown could seek a 30-day psychological assessment.
It is not known if Mr. de Grood will attend his first hearing in person or via closed-circuit TV from the Calgary Remand Centre, he said.