UPDATED: Cowichan WFP operations closed in wake of fatal Nanaimo shootings

WFP's Cowichan Bay sawmill was closed Wednesday in respect for two company workers killed, and two others wounded, during Wednesday's shooting at the firm's Nanaimo sawmill.
— image credit: News Leader Pictorial file

Western Forest Products mills in Cowichan Bay and Chemainus shut down Wednesday in the wake of a horrific shooting in Nanaimo.

And they may stay down for a few days according to a company spokesperson.

The company — formerly Duncan-based Doman Industries — has temporarily halted all operations after an incident at its Nanaimo mill that killed two men and sent two others to hospital.

"Our Timberlands operations are expected to be back up today (May 1), and our mills will be back up in the coming days," WFP spokeswoman Jennifer Davies explained Thursday, saying firm officials and workers were still coming to grips with the tragedy that has affected its daily operations.

"We have shut down all operations out of respect," WFP President Don Demens said at a media conference held in Nanaimo a few hours after the incident, which some are calling one of the worst cases of workplace violence in Canadian history.

Police confirmed the dead men as Michael John Lunn, 61, and Fred James McEachern, 53, of Nanaimo. CTV reported Thursday afternoon on Twitter that one of the injured men, Tony Sudar, was released from hospital, while the other, Earl Kelly, remains.

A former mill employee, Kevin Douglas Addison, 47, of Nanaimo is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting.

Nanaimo RCMP superintendent Mark Fisher said the incident began in the mill parking lot at about 7 a.m. and carried into the mill office. The suspect was apprehended by an emergency response team member without incident and a shotgun was seized from the scene.

Fisher refused to speculate about what led to the shooting. Several media outlets have reported the operation has been the subject of a longstanding dispute over severance packages.

Demens said grief counselling is being made available to employees.

"I would like toexpress our deepest concerns and condolences to the families, friends and coworkers and to those whose lives were lost this morning and those who were wounded," he said in a statement. "We will do whatever we can for our injured colleagues and for those who have been affected by this tragic event."

WFP — which moved its head office from Duncan to Nanaimo in 2011 — operates two mills in Nanaimo, two in Port Alberni, three in Chemainus, two in Ladysmith and one in Cowichan Bay.

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