South Shore grieves victims of northern Nova Scotia mass homicide

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>FACEBOOK/RHONDA RAMSAY</p><p>Peter and Joy Bond, pictured, in 2009. Family members confirmed the couple are among the 22 victims of the mass homicide in Colchester County.</p>

Some victims of the multiple homicides, which occurred in northern Nova Scotia between April 18 and 19, had ties to the South Shore.

Joy and Peter Bond lived in the eastern end of Lunenburg County before retiring to Portapique several years ago. Peter, LighthouseNOW is told, was born in Chester.

"I knew of them and other family members living in that area for the majority of my life," a family friend of the Bonds told LighthouseNOW.

The couple have two sons who also live in Lunenburg County, Harry and Cory.

"Peter and Joy's nieces, Rosemary and Glenda, have been my friends since middle school, so that is many years ago," the friend said. "It was horrific enough to deal with so many Nova Scotians who were senselessly killed and I never thought there would be a connection right here in Chester where I have lived all of my life."

Rhonda Ramsay and Dean Collicutt, relatives of the Bonds, each shared images and tributes on social media. "I will always remember the love and good times. I just can't believe it's real," Collicutt wrote.

Friends from Harry Bond's off-roaders club, and others, set up a GoFundMe page for Cory and Harry.

"We are hoping this will take some of the stress away from their family at this difficult time," reads the text on the fundraising page.

"Please keep their family in your prayers as well as all the other families in your thoughts and prayers."

Meanwhile, school teacher Lisa McCully, also was killed during the weekend rampage, also had a connection to Lunenburg County. She taught at Centre Consolidated School, near Lunenburg, in the early 2000's.

Also among the departed is a police officer, Cst. Heidi Stevenson of the RCMP, killed in the line of duty. Mark Furey, Lunenburg West MLA and Nova Scotia's Justice Minister, was a corporal in the RCMP when he recruited Stevenson and recalled doing her application interview back in the late 1990s.

At one point, Furey and Stevenson served with the RCMP's Halifax area detachment at the same time, although on different watches. Furey, who retired at the rank of Staff Sergeant before entering elected politics, said Stevenson was a vibrant, energetic and compassionate person.

Bridgewater's deputy police chief, Danny MacPhee, also knew Stevenson.

"To have such a major incident in such a small community, you feel for the people, and you feel for the members, you feel for the members' families, and you feel for anyone who's ever worn a police uniform," MacPhee told LighthouseNOW.

What can't be lost, Furey said, is so many other families and communities are equally impacted with grief.

The incident also brings back tough 20-plus-year-old memories for local RCMP in Lunenburg County; back to June 1996 when Sgt. Derek Burkholder was shot dead on a call in the Maders Cove area.

His daughter, Tanya Burkholder, told CTV News the April crime "brings back everything" for her.

"We know what the family's going to go through and I never want anybody to have to go through the pain that we go through, and not just Heidi's family, the families of all the victims, they have to deal with this now too," she told the network.

Furey was a constable on shift in Lunenburg County that day in 1996 and attended the Burkholder crime scene. The loss of Stevenson resonates with him. "I know what those members who were on shift [with Stevenson] were feeling," Furey told LighthouseNOW.

Stevenson's passing also had MacPhee's mind racing. MacPhee, in 2003, was among local police officers shot at by a heavily armed fugitive in the Bridgewater area. That incident ended with the suspect's death. The officers later received medals of bravery.

"You draw parallels to situations you've been involved in, near misses, things that could have been worse than they were," MacPhee commented.

Both MacPhee and Furey were equally troubled by the Colchester County gunman's ability to make a copy of a marked RCMP cruiser and acquire official uniform clothing.

"You can't mock up a vehicle overnight," Furey commented.

"The circumstances are concerning to the law enforcement community and concerning to me ... we'll definitely put a lens on this."

MacPhee would only say the matter "definitely speaks to pre-planning."

The province's voice in the federal cabinet extended her sympathies via an online message concerning the incidents in northern Nova Scotia.

"Lives were senselessly taken ... and many more were permanently changed. I can't imagine what the families and friends of those we lost are experiencing right now," said Bernadette Jordan, South Shore-St. Margaret's MP and Fisheries and Oceans minister. "In a time when families can't be physically together, know that all of Nova Scotia is grieving with you."

"Remember to reach out to someone who may be hurting – and please ask for help if you are. The only way through is together."

What makes things challenging is that the province, collectively, has experienced something tragic and traumatic that's compounded by the loss off of a responding police officer, Furey noted.

He said the availability and access to support services for those in the field of emergency response is better now than it was in the late 1990s.

"That, to me, is really what will help those individuals, regardless of their role in these circumstances."

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