By Chad Ingram
Despite the weather last Wednesday was adark and distressing day in the Haliburton Highlands.
There are still some unanswered questionsabout what happened that day but we do know some things.
We know that on the morning of July 15 aman went to enter the Valu-Mart in Minden and by all accounts assaulted anemployee there when he was asked to put on a face mask. We know he drovemenacingly around the parking lot striking vehicles and the grocery storeitself before speeding away on Highway 35. We know he was followed briefly bya police officer and that using the man's licence plate number the OPPlocated the man at his residence near Drag Lake. We know there was some kind ofinteraction there that two OPP officers fired their weapons at the man andthat he was pronounced dead at hospital a short time later. We know that asemi-automatic rifle and pistol as well as police handguns were recovered from the property.
Those are the facts as we know them onesthat have been confirmed by the store’s owner and by the Ontario SpecialInvestigations Unit which is probing the incident.
As that incident was unfolding lastWednesday and in the hours afterward what manifested itself on the socialmedia platform Facebook was a maelstrom of misinformation a great whirlingpool of wild speculation conjecture accusations rumours judgement andbickering. Many in the community were aware something serious was happeningnone of us knew for certain exactly what but that didn't stop many from justcoming to their own conclusions. Just going for it just making up their ownnarratives in the space left by the lack of real-time information from thepolice. People stating with apparent authority whether the man had weapons ornot or whether he was denied entry to the store or not (which was neverreported) as if that would have in any way justified what happened or whathis motives might have been. Maybe the guy this maybe the guy that. People hadheard this people had heard that.
Social media can be helpful for a number ofreasons but it can also be problematic in the way it can be both a breedingground and conduit for misinformation misinformation that can spread quickly.
We know very little about the man who waskilled last week – outside of his name which we are withholding until next of kin is able to be notified by police – and we’ll likely never know the real reason for what happenedthat day.
Facts – real concrete facts from validatedsources – can be difficult to come by in such situations. You often have towork hard to get them or sometimes be patient in order to get them. Since theHaliburton Highlands OPP is now under investigation by the SIU regarding thisincident the SIU is now that main validated source of facts regarding thistragic situation.
It can be frustrating sometimes how longwe must wait for facts to emerge. But they are worth waiting for. Every time.