COLUMN: Difficult solutions shouldn’t stop us from looking

As we move through emotions following random attack on school kids, we should be wondering if it was preventable

Shocking. Violent. Tragic. Frightening.

These are the words that swam in my head Tuesday, as more and more details emerged about the double stabbing in Abbotsford, and death of 13-year-old Latisha Reimer.

But as this week has worn on I find myself wondering, was it preventable?

School districts are likely wondering the same, as they review lockdown procedures and locked-door policies. So are the RCMP, who are trying to find any clues as to why someone would do such a thing.

We always want to know the ‘why.’ But, do we need to know? Will it ever make sense? I doubt it.

Still, it could help identify what led to Gabriel Klein entering Abby secondary and attacking those girls. The idea, supposedly, is if we know why he did it, we can prevent it from happening in the future.

And that takes digging into his backstory. And somebody, somewhere knows his backstory.

It could be a school principal from wherever he came from, apparently Alberta. It could be a relative. Maybe a foster parent. A social worker. A childhood friend. A family doctor. A pharmacist. A police officer or security guard who was familiar with him.

Someone.

Because none of us live in a bubble, completely cut off from the world. Even so-called “drifters.” This is the word that was used this week to label the suspected killer.

I don’t know who used it first, the police or the media. But it made me shudder.

A drifter, by definition, is someone who moves from place to place, often in search of work; yet that’s too benign for what took place Tuesday. A drifter, by horror movie definition, is always the killer; yet there is nothing cinematic or entertaining about a real person’s death.

So for me, to label Klein a drifter is somewhat reckless. A better descriptor would be homeless, and likely drug addicted.

I can’t help but believe that this is a person who fell through some crack at some point in his life. And to me, that thought brings me circling back to that question — was this preventable?

Was there someone out there that he slipped away from? Has he done this before and not been caught? Has he made threats that were ignored? Did he age out of social services and slip out of proper caring hands? Was he delusional? On a street drug?

Was there somewhere he could have been, rather than walking the streets? And is there a way to keep people like this out of schools, which should be bastions of safety for our children?

Parents in Chilliwack are already starting to draw the close connection between this reportedly homeless man winding up in a school, and the homeless people that were living adjacent to schools in Chilliwack back in September.

They were afraid something would happen if a line wasn’t drawn in the sand.

They were afraid a child would be hurt by a discarded needle at best, a crazed drug user at worst.

They joined forces, linked arms, spoke up and took action.

And something tells me they won’t stand for calling this unpreventable, or unpredictable. None of us should.

Jessica Peters is a reporter with the Chilliwack Progress

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Jeremy Bull, budtender at Dutch Bros. Buds outside the new store on Vedder Road in Chilliwack. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Chilliwack Progress)
Cannabis retail shops in Chilliwack roll through the pandemic

Opening Chilliwack cannabis store in pandemic was ‘interesting’ says a licensed store manager

Left to right: Sardis Kiwanis Club President Bruce Oakley with nominator Peter Somers, Sovereign’s Medal recipient Brian Cleaver, nominator Derek Fryer and nominator Peter Brown. (Submitted photo)
Chilliwack’s Brian Cleaver wins Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers

Cleaver is a long-time member of the Sardis Kiwanis Club and a strong advocate for Special Olympics

This plexiglass ticket window pictured on May 19, 2020 is one of four that was installed outside City Hall as a pandemic safety measure. (Jenna Hauck/ The Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack biz sector asked to review safety plans with an eye to improvement

Dr. Henry came out with enhanced recommendations for preventing COVID transmission

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Never before seen painting by famed B.C. artist Emily Carr gifted to Victoria gallery

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Sex offender who viewed underage girls as slaves has prohibitions cut from 20 to 10 years

Appeal court reviewed the case of Kyler Bryan David Williams, 29

Most Read