Wedding gunman kills nine

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The Independent Online
VERNON, British Columbia (AP) - An estranged husband shot dead his wife and eight of her relatives as they prepared for a family wedding on Friday, then drove to a motel and killed himself, leaving a note of apology.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the victims were members of a Sikh family.

The dead included the family patriarch, owner of the cream-coloured house in the affluent Mission Hill district where the shootings took place; his wife; their five grown-up daughters; a son and a son-in-law. Six victims died at the scene, three later in hospital. Two other family members, including the grandmother of the gunman's wife and a six-year-old girl, were wounded.

Another two children escaped unharmed as the gunman swept through the home in late morning, systematically shooting those he encountered with a pair of handguns and a rifle or shotgun.

Police say they will not release the names of the victims before today. But news reports have identified the head of the family as Karnail Gakhal, a successful businessman who came to Canada 20 years ago from India's Punjab state.

The Vancouver Sun reported that the gunman, who lived in the suburb of Burnaby, had a history of violence and had previously threatened his wife's family.

The bride was to be married yesterday. The groom learned of the massacre from police while en route to the wedding in the city 185 miles northeast of Vancouver.

The massacre was the second-worst mass shooting ever in Canada, topped only by the slaying of 14 women at a Montreal engineering school in 1989.