David Folstad would stop and share a friendly talk with his neighbour when out on his usual walk on their quiet street on Cornwall Avenue — and he is in “absolute shock” that the same neighbour is accused of fatally shooting four people.
John Brittain, the man Folstad has known for five years through a community organization and as his neighbour, was charged on Tuesday with one count of second degree murder and three counts of first degree murder related to a shooting spree on Monday in Penticton.
“This is a 68-year-old that is a member of the community that had never been on the map before, now all of sudden everyone is looking at him wondering what happened. I’m saying the same thing, what happened?” said Folstad, who explained that while he wasn’t close friends with Brittain, he knew him well enough to always stop and and have a conversation with him when they saw one another.
Brittain is accused of shooting Rudi Winter on Monday around 10:30 a.m. at a residence on Heales Avenue, where people have reported seeing Winter working in the yard prior to the shooting. Brittain is alleged to have then driven to Cornwall Avenue and shot and killed another man and two women at two separate residences.
Folstad said he lives just off of Cornwall Street, where Brittain’s spouse lived. He said he had no idea the couple were separated until he started reading it in media reports.
“I would see his wife and him go out for a walk in the evening. We would see each other and stop and visit for a few minutes,” said Folstad. “I didn’t even know he was separated from his wife. I’m shocked and this whole thing is not the characteristic of the man I knew at all.”
He said conversations would range from the weather to events happening in town. Folstad said he did not know the three others in the neighbourhood that were killed and is not sure what Brittain’s motive could be.
“This is not a lifetime criminal. He is not Lex Luther. Something snapped and cracked in his person. He is the type of guy you would ask to watch your house if you went away for a vacation.”
Folstad said he is still in disbelief about the events that took place on Monday.
“This is a neighbourhood where people are always out walking their dog and out enjoying the sun going down in the evening. It is the lifestyle that we all live here for.”
A candlelight vigil is being hosted by the Penticton & Wine Country Chamber of Commerce and the Ooknakane Friendship Centre in Penticton’s Gyro Park on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. to show support for the families and friends of those that were killed on Monday.
“I’m so sorry for all the families and everyone in Penticton. Like everyone else, I am feeling shocked and sad that we lost four of our community (members). Anyone who knows John is probably shocked that this has happened and must think the same as I do, that he wasn’t clearly thinking,” said Folstad.
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