B.C. sawmill worker heard big bang but didn't expect fatal shootings

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NANAIMO, B.C. - A sawmill employee in Nanaimo, B.C., says he never imagined somebody would show up to work and start shooting — until Wednesday morning.

Joe Kaila said that since he began working at the site of the Western Forest Products sawmill in 1982, he's never experienced anything like the shootings that killed two men and injured two others.

He said his workday began in the mill's back parking lot.

"Came out of the truck and I heard a big bang, and I thought the bloody, one of those propane or torch tanks blew up," said Kaila.

What Kaila heard, though, were the shootings, which the RCMP said happened just before 7 a.m. in this city of about 84,000 people on Central Vancouver Island.

But Kaila, 57, said he didn't know about any of that yet. He said he didn't see any smoke, so he went into the mill, where he bumped into the foreman, was told about the shootings and asked to gather everybody up and head to the lunchroom.

"So we gathered everybody up to make sure nobody was running around in the mill, so that way they were safe and in one place."

Police arrived within minutes of the first 911 call, RCMP said, and arrested a man who lives in the city and who the company has identified as a former employee.

The suspect, Kevin Douglas Addison, 47, was charged late Wednesday with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting.

He was remanded in custody and was to appear in Nanaimo court on Thursday.

The RCMP also identified the two men killed as Michael John Lunn, 61, and Fred James McEachern, 53, of Nanaimo.

Kaila said the police began to interview his co-workers one by one and he didn't get out of the mill until about 10 a.m.

He said one of the men killed was a friend and he knew of the shooter.

"Who's going to come in the mill with a gun?" he asked. "We're like one family. We're pretty happy everybody there, right. And nobody thought somebody is going to bring a gun here and start shooting."

Supt. Mark Fisher said police believed the attack began in the parking lot and then moved into the mill's offices.

A member of the RCMP emergency response team arrested the suspect shortly after arriving, said Fisher, and a shotgun was seized at the scene.

"The families and the mill employees will now have to cope with the tragedy that unfolded here today, as will the community of Nanaimo," he said.

"It's going to be a challenge."

Organizations: RCMP, Western Forest Products

Geographic location: NANAIMO, Central Vancouver Island

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