The tragedy of a school shooting is something Canadians normally associate with our neighbours to the south.
And while there has been only a small fraction of the number of such incidents in Canada compared to the U.S., this nation is not entirely immune.
In fact, it happened in Langley 21 years ago, when shots rang out at Langley Secondary School, injuring two young men.
On Friday, Jan. 24, 1997, the two LSS students, both 17, were struck by bullets while they were hanging out near the high school’s smoke pit during lunch hour.
One of the victims was struck once — in the lower leg — while the other was shot twice — in the hand and through the hip and groin. Both teens were taken to hospital and then released within a few days.
Although nowhere near the tragedy that students in Parkland, Florida experienced on Feb. 14, when 17 teachers and classmates were killed by a lone gunman, the incident nonetheless shook up students, staff and faculty at the Langley high school.
One student, a friend of the victims, described the scene at the school that Friday afternoon as “chaotic.”
“And it’s almost as bad today,” he said the following Monday.
Another student described the shooting as sending shock waves through the corridors of the school.
“That kind of stuff just doesn’t happen in Langley. It’s not like Vancouver, we’re not in L.A.,” the student said.
The events that led up to the shooting were unclear, even several days later, but there was some speculation, police said, that the motive involved an unpaid debt.
RCMP arrested five people within an hour of the incident, including an 18-year-old and four minors, all of whom were charged with attempted murder and assault with a weapon.
A .380 semi automatic handgun was recovered in the 21000 block of 40 Avenue.
Langley RCMP Staff Sgt. Rick Lawrence, who oversaw the investigation, said while he was sure weapons were not being hidden in school lockers, the shooting was somewhat “indicative of the way our community is going now.
“Years ago, if students had a serious problem, they would fight it out with their fists,” he said.
“Now, they appear to want to bring weapons into the fight, either a gun or a knife.”
John Scholtens, who was mayor of Langley Township at the time, said he was shocked and disappointed by the events at LSS.
“I want to assure the community that we will stay on top of this and we will not allow groups of people or gangs to take over our streets as their private turf,” Scholtens said.
“We have lost a little bit of innocence. I think every student who went to school today feels different from the way they did on Friday.”