The RCMP have charged a man from a small town in Alberta with two counts of murder after two Métis men were fatally shot on a rural road last week.
Anthony Bilodeau, 31, is charged in the deaths of Jacob Sansom and Maurice Cardinal, who were killed last Friday near Glendon, a town of about 500 people located 220 kilometres northeast of Edmonton.
Police have not pinpointed a motive and said there is nothing to suggest race was a factor.
On March 27, around 9:30 p.m. MT, two vehicles stopped on a road near Glendon, the RCMP said. Mr. Sansom and Mr. Cardinal were in one truck, and two people were in the other vehicle. A verbal fight turned physical, police said. Then another person arrived, police said, eventually firing “several shots," and allegedly killing Mr. Sansom and Mr. Cardinal.
The Mounties do not believe the victims knew Mr. Bilodeau or the other two people. A traveller found the victims dead outside their truck around 4 a.m. MT the next morning. RCMP do not believe that person is connected to the alleged murders.
Mr. Bilodeau is in custody, facing two counts of second-degree murder. RCMP are still investigating.
Mr. Sansom and Mr. Cardinal, according to local media, were hunting and fishing to support their families on the day they were allegedly shot. Mr. Sansom was married with three children.
“Jake was my soul mate,” Sarah Sansom, his wife, wrote on Facebook after his death. They had known each other since Grade 10. “And I will never ever be okay. But I’ll keep going, because I know how loved he was.”
Mr. Sansom was a volunteer firefighter with Nobleford and District Emergency Services, which serves his rural community about 200 kilometres south of Calgary. The 39-year-old recently lost his job, according to a GoFundMe campaign established to support his family.
Mr. Cardinal, who local media identified as Mr. Sansom’s uncle, was 57 and lived in Bonnyville, which is about 30 kilometres east of Glendon. He was a grandfather and stepfather, according to local media reports. Mr. Sansom and Mr. Cardinal had Métis hunting rights, these reports said.
Staff Sergeant Jason Zazulak, who is part of the RCMP major-crimes unit in Alberta, said he believes witnesses are being co-operative. He would not say what kind of gun was used.
“There’s nothing to suggest race was involved in any way at any time,” Staff Sgt. Zazulak said. “There’s no suggestion that it was racially motivated.”
A message left at the phone number listed for Anthony Bilodeau in Glendon was not returned. The allegations against him have not been tested in court. Mr. Bilodeau is scheduled to appear in court via CCTV on April 9.
Alberta, as with other provinces, has capped the number of people who are allowed to gather in order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. This applies to funerals, too. Mr. Cardinal’s service, for example, will be limited to immediate family, according to a Facebook post from Ruby Smith, who noted the deceased was her brother.
“Unfortunately, due to the coronavirus, we are allowed a small group at a time to pay our respects,” she wrote. “Please do not donate food, as we are not allowed to have a ceremony or a meal after in their celebration of life.”