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Community reacts as charges laid after fire, shootings in Parham

Residents console and support one another as they look on at the aftermath of the fire that ravaged a residence and St. James Anglican Church in Parham on the night of Sunday, Jun. 7, 2020. Photo by Cris Vilela.

Residents in Parham, located in Central Frontenac Township, are reeling today after a busy night of undesirable activity saw the village’s Anglican church destroyed by fire, and an active manhunt result in police apprehending the suspect in the early morning.

The incident began on the night of Sunday, Jun. 7, 2020 when police from the Frontenac Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) responded to reports of gunshots in Parham just after 8:30 p.m.

According to the OPP, one victim was treated by Frontenac Paramedic Services for a minor injury. Kingstonist has inquired whether that injury was the result of a gunshot, and will update this article as that information becomes available.

At approximately 1:15 a.m. on Monday, Jun. 8, 2020, the OPP released the name and description of the suspect, who is also accused of starting a fire in a residence which spread to the adjacent building, St. James Anglican Church. Both buildings we destroyed by the fire.

Then, at approximately 7:30 a.m., the OPP arrested the accused man, Brian Daniel Mosher, 42, of Central Frontenac. The arrest took place without incident in the Hartington area, south of Parham.

As a result, the OPP have charged Mosher with:

  • Two counts of attempt to commit murder using a firearm
  • Discharging a firearm into or at a place in a reckless manner
  • Two counts of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm
  • Two counts of arson – damage to property
  • Using a firearm while committing an offence
  • Possession of a weapon for dangerous purposes
  • Unauthorized possession of a firearm

Mosher is scheduled to appear for a bail hearing by video before the Ontario Court of Justice in Kingston on Monday, Jun. 8, 2020.

Members of the OPP and the Central Frontenac Fire Department remained on scene in Parham on the morning of Monday, Jun. 8, 2020, where next to no remains of St. James Anglican Church stood just feet from the sidewalk. Photo by Cris Vilela.

According to a resident in the area who asked not to be identified, the injured party was responding to the scene from a nearby funeral home and was shot as he approached the suspect. Responding volunteer firefighters were also shot at – shots hit the truck, but no one was injured.

The resident said the suspect has lived in the home adjacent to the church for approximately two years with his three young children, and that the children were dropped off to his ex-wife’s house prior to the incident. The resident also said that the suspect was located at a family member’s home, and that the weapon in question was a 12 gauge shotgun.

Councillors, religious leaders respond

Bishop Michael Oulton, the Anglican Bishop of Ontario, travelled to Parham on the morning of Monday, Jun. 8, 2020 to offer support to those in the parish and the community following the events over night.

“Last night the people of Parham endured the frightening spectre of violence in their community. An active shooter was present for several hours, first responders and bystanders were fired upon and fire consumed a residence along with the Church of St. James. My heart goes out to the people of the community and to the parishioners of St. James Church,” Bishop Oulton said in a letter. “I am deeply thankful that the incident resolved without further violence and today we extend our deepest thanks to the first responders in the police and fire services.”

Oulton went on to describe the history of St. James Anglican Church in Parham.

“St. James Church and those who have worshipped and ministered there have been a presence in the community of Parham for 133 years. I remember with great fondness, the celebrations I have attended marking significant milestones in the life of the parish, most recently the 130th anniversary celebration in 2017,” he said.

“While this marks one more sad incident in a string of tragedies that have become all too familiar throughout 2020, nothing can detract from the strength of the shared life within our communities. We have seen the strength of community spirit quickly bring healing and support to grieving people. It is truly inspiring,” Bishop Oulton continued. “I am certain the people of Parham will feel the love and support that is part of their common life, as well as that which is being directed your way from across our region this morning. The diocese stands ready to offer our support during these days both pastorally and administratively.”

The front entrance of St. James Anglican Church were all that remained standing on Monday, Jun. 8, 2020. Photo by Cris Vilela.

Similarly, Central Frontenac Councillors Brent Cameron and Nicki Gowdy, who both represent the Hinchinbrooke District which includes Parham, expressed their sorrow, but also their support for the community in jointly-written open letter.

“First, we offer thanks and gratitude to our first responders – the officers of the OPP, our local firefighters, and those from neighbouring municipalities that came in our time of need. The men and women of the CFFD are local volunteers who regularly put their own safety at risk in the course of their duties. They are not only neighbours and friends, but we both have been proud to have counted our own families among their ranks. The extraordinary circumstances of the events in Parham on Sunday night did not deter their commitment to all of us, and we are fortunate to have such people in our midst,” the letter reads. “We are grateful for the skill and the professionalism of the OPP in bringing this matter to an end, acknowledging that this situation could have been far worse.”

“To the congregation of St. James Anglican, there are not sufficient words to describe the sorrow we feel for the loss of your spiritual home. We are reminded that a church is not a building, but its parishioners. You will rebuild, and we stand ready to offer help,” the councillors continued. “For the people of Parham, the events of Sunday night may have drawn the attention of the outside world, but we know that this is not who we are. We were here before, and we will still be here long after the press has moved on to the next breaking news story. Sunday night does not define our community, but it strengthens our resolve to show our true face as we all work together to recover.”

The councillors referred to the hashtag being used on social media – #ParhamStrong – and said that in the coming weeks, area residents would be demonstrating that strength and resolve.

“Like successive generations, we will acknowledge our loss, summon our determination, and will rebuild,” the letter concludes. “We are proud of this community, and the indomitable spirit of those we are fortunate to represent.”

Kingstonist will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as more information becomes available.

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