A recent graduate of the University of Calgary was charged in the fatal stabbing of five people at a house party that the police chief called the worst mass slaying in the western Canadian city’s history.
Matthew Douglas de Grood, the son of a 33-year veteran of the Calgary police force, picked up a large knife shortly after arriving at the party and stabbed the victims one by one shortly after 1am on Tuesday, police chief Rick Hanson said.
De Grood, 22, was charged with five counts of murder late on Tuesday.
“This is the worst murder — mass murder — in Calgary’s history,” Hanson said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“We have never seen five people killed by an individual at one scene. The scene was horrific,” he said.
The attack in Calgary came nearly a week after a teenage boy in the US stabbed and wounded 21 students at his high school outside Pittsburgh.
Hanson said the motive for the Calgary attack was unknown. He said the suspect’s father and mother are devastated.
“They are now feeling so much sorrow,” he said. “Those young people are dead and they are absolutely devastated.”
Hanson said the identities of the five victims — four men and a woman — will be released when autopsies are completed. He said their ages range from 22 to 27 and they were all “good kids.”
Neither the victims nor the suspect had any prior involvement with police, Hanson said.
The University of Calgary said De Grood graduated last year with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in psychology and minoring in law and society.
Hanson said about 20 people were at the party celebrating the last days of classes at a home in the northwest residential neighborhood of Brentwood, near the campus.
He said the suspect was invited to the party and showed up after working his shift at a grocery store and was welcomed inside.
He said it appears that no one at the house had been sleeping when the attack took place shortly after 1am on Tuesday, but that everyone was taken by surprise.
Hanson said the suspect “targeted the victims one by one, stabbing them several times.”
“Was there anything that precipitated the event? Was there something that anyone had done that anyone could have taken as an insult or an affront to this individual? To the best of our knowledge right now, there’s nothing to indicate anything like that happened,” Hanson said.
He said the suspect allegedly brought a weapon, or “instrument,” from work to the party, but grabbed a large knife from inside the house.
Three men were found dead at the home after someone at the party called the emergency dispatcher. A man and a woman died at a hospital.
Police said De Grood was arrested with the help of the police canine unit about 40 minutes after the stabbings and was taken to a hospital for treatment for dog bites.
Hanson said there was nothing to indicate the suspect was drunk or had been doing drugs.
The blue-sided house where the stabbings occurred is on a quiet, tree-lined residential street. It was surrounded with yellow police tape as medical examiner staff brought three bodies out on stretchers.
Neighbor Doug Jones said about a dozen students had been drinking beer around a firepit in the backyard earlier in the night, but they were not rowdy. He said they were talking about politics and the stock market.