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Mass murder in Calgary

The suspect in the stabbing deaths of five people at a Calgary house party is the son of a senior police officer, the police chief confirmed, calling the killings the "worst mass murder in Calgary’s history."

Police have charged Matthew de Grood, 22, with five counts of first-degree murder.

De Grood is a University of Calgary student and the son of a police officer who has served with the Calgary Police Service for 33 years. According to his Facebook page, he was recently accepted into the University of Calgary’s law school.

Police Chief Rick Hanson told reporters the suspect arrived at the party on Butler Crescent N.W. as an invited guest “and targeted the victims one by one” with a knife.

The names of the victims have not been released by police, but they have been identified as Lawrence Hong, Josh Hunter, Zackariah Rathwell, Kaiti Perras and Jordan Segura.

Investigators are now trying to piece together what may have led to the fatal attack, Hanson said.

"That's one of the things that our investigators are looking at, trying to determine was there anything that precipitated the event. Was there something that anyone had done that could have been taken as an insult or an affront to this individual?" he said. "And to the best of our knowledge right now, there's nothing to indicate anything like that happened earlier in the day that led to this event."

He added that at this point, there's no indication alcohol was a factor.

The police chief became emotional while discussing the suspect's parents, noting that they are "heartbroken," and had asked him to pass on their sorrow and condolences to the victims' families.

"They are devastated and they feel so much pain for the families that were impacted by their son," he said, adding that they have been fully co-operating with the investigation.

During the news conference Hanson remained sombre, noting the event was the "worst mass murder" in the city's history and would take a toll on the officers who attended the scene.

"The scene was horrific. It's extremely difficult, regardless of who the perpetrator is, to go into a scene like that with young people who've been killed, who've been murdered," he said.

University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon also spoke at the news conference Tuesday, offering condolences to the victims' families on behalf of the school.

"The university community has lost a part of its family, and this is a very difficult time for all of us," she said.

Cannon said the university was working to ensure that counselling and support services were in place to help students, staff and community members who were struggling with the deaths.

Calling the deaths a "senseless tragedy," she said the university was working with police.

Calgary police were called to a home in the residential neighbourhood of Brentwood around 1:30 a.m. local time Tuesday, where students had held an all-day party the day before.

Five people were found with stab wounds. Paramedics declared three men dead at the scene. Two more victims -- a man and a woman -- were taken to hospital, but later succumbed to their injuries.

About 30 minutes later, police using canine units tracked a suspect in his 20s who had fled the home. The suspect was arrested and taken to hospital for treatment of injuries sustained during the police dog pursuit.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted his sympathies to the victims’ families, writing that he and his wife, Laureen Harper, "send our condolences to the families & friends of the victims of the senseless violence in Calgary last night."

Neighbours told reporters they heard no commotion during the night. They also said the students who rented the house had been drinking at the home throughout the day without incident to mark the University of Calgary student union’s annual “Bermuda Shorts Day,” which celebrates the last day of classes.

Doug Jones, who lives across the street from where the killings took place, says the students appeared to be having a barbecue in the home’s backyard in the evening.

“It was like a normal gathering; it wasn’t loud, it wasn’t unruly. Around dusk, they moved inside, and then we didn’t really hear anything,” he told CTV News Channel.

“We woke up this morning to yellow tape in the back alley here. I was in shock when the reporters told us what happened.”

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