The “West Wild/Mad Max/Real World” Comes to Tamworth

This is a very strange blog to write.

I’d rather not be writing it. I don’t feel it’s representative of the tens of thousands of small towns and villages across North America that are safe, wonderful places to live. I don’t want to discourage anyone from dreaming about or moving to one of these special places. The reality is that these events can happen anywhere.

A random act by a madman last week in our nearby village left two men dead, two people injured and our collective innocence shaken.

Here’s one of the official news items about this story;

Both men who died are trappers, so some of the beavers and coyotes breathed a big sigh of relief after the incident. Apparently there was a dispute about trap lines and one guy killed the other. From what I understand the victim was elderly and suffering from terminal cancer. I believe he and the killer were friends. The shooter then came to town and did a lot of crazy stuff, knocking on the door of the funeral home and yelling at them that there’d been a death and to call 911. Then he rammed his truck into some garages. Then he went to the post office and again told them to call 911. One of the people in the post office was a volunteer firefighter and when he heard this he left to head up to fire station to respond to the call.

The killer, let’s call him “crazy man who just snapped” followed the firefighter outside, got a gun out of his truck, shot the firefighter in his car and when Katie at the post office opened the side door to find out what vehicle he was driving, at the request of the 911 operator, he turned and pointed the gun at Katie.

I can only refer to him as a crazy madman because everyone in Tamworth loves Katie at the Post Office. Years ago we wrote a blog about her after giving her the Aztext Press “Employee of the Decade” Award because she is just so awesome. It’s bad enough to shoot a firefighter on his way to respond to an emergency, but he really crossed the line when he pointed the gun at Katie. One newspaper reporter called her the “beloved” post office manager because, really, everyone in town thinks she’s awesome. Who shoots a firefigher? Who aims a gun at Katie?

He then got in his truck, headed north of our town eventually stopping in the middle of the road. When a women came up to him and couldn’t get by, he rammed her car several times with his truck, she jumped into the back seat and he then broke her window and started choking her. Luckily another car came along thinking there’d been an accident, and he left and fled north. Eventually the police found him dead. I would be insincere if I don’t admit that I am glad he ended his own life, saving everyone from having to relive the nightmare in court. Frankly I wish he’d had the intestinal fortitude to do it before he started on his little rampage, but I guess that’s the way it is when people snap.

I have no profound observations on the whole incident. It is extremely unsettling. The town is shaken. One finds oneself very off center, very unhinged, somewhat off kilter.

This is no Sandy Hook in terms of the number and ages of the victims. The whole terrorizing a village thing though … that’s on a whole different level. We try and pretend reality will never impact us, but it always does regardless of where you live. When we lived in suburbia Paul Bernardo kidnapped and killed several young women. One had been dumped at the side of a road where I often cycled. I’m not sure our daughters ever figured out why were so overprotective of them sometimes. Violence hits way too close to home some times.

I have commented before on one of the joys of living in a small town or village and it is the way people rally around each other in times of crisis. When a home burns down, the villagers donate items and money to help the affected family.  When someone is coping with a devastating illness, people finds ways to help them out. This event has shaken our village but it has also strengthened our ties to one another and our resolve to support one another as we come to terms with what happened.


6 Responses to “The “West Wild/Mad Max/Real World” Comes to Tamworth”

  • Perry Boulter:

    It seems at times we live in a world where madness stikes many good people. Madness takes many random forms and ultimately effects us all.

    It is important doing these times to know that the vast MAJORITY of us have big hearts, care deeply for one another, and can live peacefully with one another, as God intends.

    I know that the good people that lost their loved ones will find peace and support from the great community that surrounds them.

    I offer my sincere condolences and heartfelt prayers to you and your community.

  • Mel:

    I lived in a village of 600 people and experienced more violence there than in any city I have ever lived in. Some of it was triggered by personal disputes between the parties, some of it was people getting caught in something that had nothing to do with them, and some of it was fueled by drugs, alcohol and misogyny. In a 3 month period there were 2 murders, 2 incidents of domestic abuse resulting in horrible physical injuries (one carried out in public), and the gang rape of a young person. The whole community was in shock, terrified and grief stricken. I left about two months after these events. I don’t know how and if it healed. 2 years later the person who committed the two murders had not been apprehended by police although many of his family live in the village and surrounding area.

    There are many people with severe mental illness who suffer psychotic breaks; and there are highly dysfunctional, addicted and criminal people. We are in contact with them all the time. Some people fall though the cracks, for others there were no supports to begin with – because no one was paying enough attention to their situation to recognize how bad things are. We tend to let our eccentrics go about their ways…without questioning their sanity and acting on our concerns. We live in an society that cherishes personal freedom and individuality, and we often miss it when someone is no longer acting sanely. We are often touched by madness, so perhaps we need to educate ourselves about it.

    In addition to holding close those we love and hold dear, perhaps we need to become protective of the health of the whole community. Harm and injury are done to whole communities when such horrific incidents occur, and it is communities as a whole that need to heal. My impulse would to be to get help to find a way to deal with the shock and horror as a community.

    My condolences, and best wishes for healing.

  • Gerrit Botha:

    We’re very glad you guys are safe and send our condolences to the town and the families involved.

  • Ron & Mari (Chicago):

    Unfortunately, this is reminiscent of an old episode of “Gunsmoke”, but with no Marshal Dillon to dispatch the two knucklehead trappers!

    Hope the normal peace and tranquillity of the Salmon River Valley soon returns to Sunflower Farm and its evirons.

  • Rita Marsh:

    I am glad you weren’t in town when all this happened. Glad you and Michelle are safe. Such a sad thing to happen.

  • Jeff:

    When I heard the news story I immediately thought “Is nt that where Cam and Michelle live? I hope they are OK….. I hope thats not Cam!”
    I know you can get wound up on a issue, but I dont think you will ever get THAT wound up! Glad you are safe

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Cam Mather and his wife Michelle live independently off the electricity grid using the sun and wind to power their home and their CSA. Cam is working towards the goal of making his home “zero-carbon” and with his extensive garden he aims to grow as much of his own food as possible. He is available to speak at conferences and other events and has motivated many people to integrate renewable energy into their lives, reduce their footprint on the planet and get started on the path to personal food, fuel and financial independence.
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