DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. - It was a nightmare rampage of violence that police call totally random and bizarre.
A Canadian senior, a nine-year-old American boy and the man who killed them are dead and two others are seriously injured after a shooting and standoff at a Florida RV park popular with Canucks.
The incident, which ended with a SWAT team storming a mobile home Friday morning, has officials at the Broward Sheriff's Office working to piece together just what motivated a man to kill a Canadian he didn't know and then launch a bloody attack on his own family before killing himself.
"It's a very bizarre incident and it appears to be totally random," police spokesman Jim Leljedal told The Canadian Press.
Police say the attacker, William De Jesus, drove to the Highland Woods RV Park in Deerfield Beach, Fla., Thursday night from his home in Port Orange, Fla., some 350 kilometres away. His wife and their two children, aged nine and seven, were with him.
Once at the park, police say, De Jesus drove up to the lot where a Quebec couple had parked their RV and got out of his car.
At that point, 76-year-old Ovila Plante, from La Tuque, Que., came to the door of his mobile home and spoke with De Jesus, but police said the two couldn't communicate well because Plante didn't speak much English.
"De Jesus started yelling, Plante pushed him away,'' Leljedal said. ''De Jesus pulled out a gun and shot Mr. Plante once in the chest.
"When Plante went down and hit the ground, De Jesus approached him, walked up and put another bullet in his head, killing him."
With the Canadian lying dead outside the RV, De Jesus then bundled his own family into the mobile home, which was still occupied by Plante's girlfriend.
Quebecer Pierrette Beauchemin, who is in her 70s, managed to flee the RV soon after and ran to authorities who had arrived at the park, police said.
A SWAT team surrounded the mobile home and although De Jesus spoke with police for a short time early on, that communication didn't last long.
After a standoff that lasted nearly seven hours, authorities entered the vehicle early Friday and found De Jesus and his nine-year-old son, Jeshiah, dead.
His wife, Deanna, and seven-year-old son, Samson, were badly injured.
"They'd all been stabbed," said Leljedal. "Apparently (William) De Jesus stabbed his children first, then stabbed his wife and then himself."
Police have spoken to De Jesus' injured wife and son, who are in "serious condition" but are expected to survive.
Authorities believe there was no relationship between De Jesus and the Canadians.
"There's no indication that they knew each other at all, it just appears to be totally random," said Leljedal.
"We're going to try to put together the facts as we know them. But it doesn't appear there's anyone to charge.''
Autopsies on the victims were to be conducted later Friday.
The park where the incident took place is located about 30 kilometres north of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and is popular with Canadians, say staff at the facility's office.
"It's a very peaceful park," said Leljedal. "That's what makes this so bizarre."
Lorraine Garneau, who has a trailer near Plante's at the Florida RV park, said she headed outside after hearing a disturbance.
''We heard an argument and then we heard shots,'' she told Montreal radio station 98.5 FM. ''We got out of the trailer and saw the elderly Quebec man approaching us.
''He was bleeding from the nose, and his eyes were glassy. He told us 'Call 911, I've just been shot twice.'
''We backed off a bit. He headed toward the road trying to escape, and he fell down. We went up to him to see if he was breathing, and he was.''
When contacted at his father's home in La Tuque, Plante's 50-year-old son said he didn't want to talk about the tragedy.
"It's my father," Gerald Plante told The Canadian Press.
"There must be at least 40 people who have called, but we have to keep on working, despite our pain.
"People haven't stopped calling, but we're just asking for a litle bit of respect and to wait a day or two and then we'll talk (about it)."
— Written by Diana Mehta in Toronto, with a contribution from Peter Rakobowchuk in Montreal