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Matthew de Grood has been charged with five counts of first-degree murder. This photo is from his St. Francis High School yearbook.

Matthew de Grood appeared all set to embark on the first stages of a legal career.

The 22-year-old son of a senior Calgary police officer was accepted at law school for this fall, having completed his undergraduate studies with a major in psychology and minor in law and society.

Outwardly, people who know him say, he showed no signs of preparing a crime. Calgary police allege he walked into a house party full of university students raising toasts to the end of the school year, grabbed a large kitchen knife and stabbed five of them repeatedly.

"He was a really nice guy. Honestly, I can't believe it was him," said a student who shared some classes with Mr. de Grood. He declined to give his name, but said they were lab partners in a psychology course in 2010.

"He seemed very happy at the time," the student said. He did not get the sense anything was wrong with Mr. de Grood.

Mr. de Grood is charged with five counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of the four men and one woman, all in their 20s, early Tuesday. Police Chief Rick Hanson called it the city's worst multiple murder.

Police say Mr. de Grood was invited to join his classmates. He went to the party after work.

In his last Facebook post, on Monday afternoon, Mr. de Grood wrote: "Dread and the fugitive mind – the world needs a hero," which is a song and 2001 album by the thrash metal band Megadeth.

Its lyrics seem foreboding now: "I ought to get caught because I'm doing something wicked; I'm guilty, haunted by my fear and the only consequences are dread and the fugitive mind."

After the attacks, officers, including a canine unit, apprehended Mr. de Grood and took him into custody, but not before a struggle and a trip to the hospital to treat a dog bite. There was no evidence of drugs or alcohol being a factor.

Chief Hanson said Mr. de Grood's parents were devastated and heartbroken over what their son – a runner in a charity marathon just last year – was alleged to have perpetrated in the northwest Calgary home rented to a group of students.

His father, Douglas de Grood, is a senior Calgary Police Service inspector with more than three decades of experience. According to a recent biography on the Alberta Community Crime Prevention Association website, he was in charge of the policy development section of the force. He contributed to a 2008 report on youth offenders in Calgary for the municipal government and the Alberta Law Foundation.