Salmon Arm  

600 mourn shooting victim

It was standing room only as more than 600 mourners filled the Salmon Arm Recreation Centre on Saturday.

The community was left shocked and dazed when community leader Gordon Parmenter was shot and killed in the Church of Christ earlier this month.

The 78 year old died on April 14 after a gunman burst into the church and shot him. A fellow parishioner, Paul Derkach, was also shot.

Derkach was airlifted to Royal Inland Hospital, where he underwent surgery to save his right leg. Derkach was seen hobbling in to pay his respects and show support for the family at Saturday's memorial.

The BC Prosecution Service has identified the suspect shooter as 25-year-old Matrix Savage Gathergood. At the time of the shooting, a number of parishioners wrestled Gathergood to the ground, seizing the rifle.

Police arrested him, and he faces several charges, including first degree murder, aggravated assault, and disguising his face with intent to commit an indictable offence. It is not believed to be a religiously motivated act. Gathergood’s first court appearance on April 23 was adjourned for two weeks. His next court appearance is on May 7.

Both of Parmenter’s sons, Dave and Tony, spoke at their father’s memorial, recounting stories showing him to be a loving husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, foster parent, and friend to all.

And a character, too, as some stories evoked chuckles from the crowd. One such story was the day their parents got married. As the newly-weds drove off in Gord’s white Corvette, they were pulled over by police, and asked where they were coming from. Glancing at Peggy in her white wedding dress, he thought it was obvious. It didn’t go well, and he was handcuffed and placed in a police car. Peggy had a difficult time trying to drive the car in her wedding dress; it was that or the mascara-stained tears running down her face that led to Gord being released.

“Papa,” as he was affectionately known, is survived by Peggy, his wife of 53 years, three children, nineteen grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and many foster children. Predeceasing him are his parents, and daughter Judith Rae.

– Cindy Rhyason

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