12/16/2011 06:55 EST | Updated 05/10/2013 05:12 EDT

Alberta Highway Shooting Deaths Not Random

Alberta RCMP piecing together a roadside murder-suicide that left four people dead Thursday have confirmed the slayings were targeted and that investigators "have a really good idea" about the motive.

But Sgt. Patrick Webb also told CBC News on Friday morning that although investigators know "there are relationships between all these people," police want to interview the lone survivor in the highway shootings before drawing conclusions.

Media reports have described the gunman who killed himself and who has not been named as the ex-boyfriend of one of the female victims.

The shooting rampage on a dark stretch of Alberta highway north of Claresholm, Alta., around 3:30 a.m. local time claimed the lives of four people and left a fifth person in hospital.

Among the dead were Tanner Craswell, 22, and Mitch MacLean, 20, baseball teammates and best friends originally from P.E.I. and known as promising athletes. A woman in her 20s, identified in media reports as Tabitha Stepple of Lethbridge, Alta., was also killed.


The shooter was found dead at the scene at Highway 2 after turning the gun on himself.

Police, following up on reports of gunfire, came across a car and an SUV in a ditch and discovered the bodies.

The only survivor, identified in media reports as Shayna Conway, formerly of Charlottetown, had been travelling in the car with the other victims, and is recovering in hospital.

Investigators looking at 'every possible detail'

RCMP released few details about their investigation, but said they had recovered a gun and expected to release more details within the next couple days.

"Our investigators on scene, what they're doing is looking back at every possible detail. Literally in the seconds, hours, minutes, days before this happened on that highway," Webb said Friday.

He confirmed that among the details being probed is how an earlier encounter at a local convenience store may have played into the deadly incident.

"Yes, there was something that happened at the convenience store, but we want to get the story from our lone survivor," Webb said.

Media outlets citing residents had reported that the fatal altercation may have been sparked from an incident at a 7-Eleven store in the town centre.

Craswell and MacLean, along with the two female passengers, had been en route to the Calgary airport before the shootings.

Friends mourn deaths

Kevin Kvame, the manager of the Lethbridge Bulls baseball team on which the two young men played, said the pair had set out for a two-hour road trip to the airport so they could fly home to P.E.I. for Christmas. A girlfriend had agreed to drive them, and was accompanied by a female friend, Kvame said.

People in Charlottetown and Lethbridge are mourning the death of the two ballplayers. Friends in Alberta told CBC News they'll remember two kind guys who loved baseball so much that they would even play in the snow.

In Charlottetown, Matt Hood, who grew up with Craswell and MacLean, said they shared a love of baseball. Hood said even the snow didn't stop the two ballplayers from giving Hood's younger brothers a practice session.

"Tanner and Mitch would have a catch with them in the dead of winter with snow up to their shins… just to help them out," he said. "That's the kind of people they were."

Allison MacDonald, who coached MacLean on the Islanders baseball team in the summer of 2010, said MacLean was preparing to head to the U.S. to play college ball this winter.