He was the neighbourhood irritant who lived by himself and owed money to the city, to his ex-wife and to the bank until he was faced with the possibility of losing his home to foreclosure.
On Monday evening, Edmonton police showed up at Norm Raddatz's southwest bungalow with an arrest warrant for his failure to appear in court on a $250 bylaw fine. Mr. Raddatz was also a suspect in an investigation into online racial harassment.
Police knocked on the door and announced themselves, and when no one answered they used a battering ram to attempt to enter Mr. Raddatz's home. More than 50 shots came from inside the house and through the front door, killing Constable Daniel Woodall and wounding Sergeant Jason Harley.
In the aftermath of the violent attack, Edmonton and its police force are mourning the loss of Constable Woodall, a 35-year-old member of the hate crimes unit. Details have begun to surface as to who Mr. Raddatz was, what troubled him and why he would open fire on the police before setting his house on fire. His body was found in the basement, with an autopsy scheduled for Wednesday.
Those who lived near Mr. Raddatz, 42, spoke of him as the neighbour everyone dreaded. Ryan Colton said Mr. Raddatz's home, with its deteriorating exterior and frequently unmowed and garbage-ridden lawn, was "an eyesore." Mr. Colton, who called city officials to complain about his neighbour, added that Mr. Raddatz was also "very aggressive" in situations that did not call for it and began leaving feces on Mr. Colton's fence. When asked why, Mr. Colton said, "Because he's an idiot."
When the shooting began Monday night, Mr. Colton was sitting on his deck. He ran inside before seeing several officers pulling the injured police officer to a corner of his property. Mr. Colton said he and another neighbour then helped the officer to the end of the street to get medical attention. He said the injured officer came by this morning and thanked him for his help.
Mr. Colton saw Mr. Raddatz's ex-girlfriend, who had come to the murder scene. He said the ex-girlfriend told him Mr. Raddatz had recently become involved with the Freemen on the land movement and "kind of went off the deep end." Police have said they are not aware of any link to the group that calls itself "sovereign citizens" and anti-government.
There was no doubt Mr. Raddatz was in a financial mess. He owed $316,886.37 of a $380,000 mortgage he took out in March, 2012, for his home; $18,919.64 under Royal Bank of Canada's Homeline Plan, which gathers mortgages and credit lines under one umbrella; and $41,710.55 of a $45,000 line of credit he took out in September, 2002. A statement of claim filed by RBC in April, 2014, says he has "less than" six months to pay off his loans or the bank will foreclose on his home.
According to corporate records, Mr. Raddatz was the owner of a refrigeration company, North Summit Mechanical Inc., which was registered in 2007. On June 2, the company's active status was revoked by the registrar of corporations for failing to file annual returns in the past two years.
He was $4,182.41 in arrears on his property taxes, too.
At the same time, hate-crime investigators were after Mr. Raddatz in connection with a case of "extreme hatred against a local family," Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht told reporters. While Mr. Raddatz didn't have an extensive criminal record, he was known to police.
"The case that led to last evening's events was a lengthy hate-crime file with evidence dating back to February of 2014," Chief Knecht said. "The online hatred and bullying of an Edmonton family had become extreme, and the family members were increasingly worried about their personal safety, at which time the Edmonton police service got involved."
Michael Noble, another of Mr. Raddatz's neighbours, recalled that police were at Raddatz's home earlier in the week, but he didn't answer the door. In Monday's visit, they came ready to knock the door off its hinges until Sgt. Harley was shot in the lower back and saved by his body armour. Constable Woodall was also wearing body armour but suffered what was termed "a catastrophic wound."
Chief Knecht noted that officers didn't return fire and the bullet holes found in the house across the street indicated the gunman used a large-bore rifle. "We are not looking for any additional suspect in this case," Chief Knecht said.
Mr. Noble and his family were fortunate no one was hit by one of the many bullets fired into his house. His father was taking a nap when bullets entered the home just a few feet above the 91-year-old man's head. Mr. Noble said his father, who fought in the Second World War and is the son of hockey Hall of Famer Reg Noble, had to crawl out of the room once he realized what was going on.
Like others who lived near Mr. Raddatz, Mr. Noble experienced his neighbour's ill will. He said Mr. Raddatz falsely believed two years ago that Mr. Noble was contacting the city about his illegally parked RV. He said the incident ultimately appeared to blow over and Mr. Raddatz stopped frowning at him.
With reports from Verity Stevenson, Stephanie Chambers and Allan Maki