Desmond family says military to pay for funerals of murder-suicide victims
The family of Shanna Desmond says the military has stepped forward and will pay for the funerals of three family members killed by a veteran who later took his own life in Upper Big Tracadie, N.S., this week.
“Veteran Affairs was telling me that the prime minister got involved, and they had orders to support all the families for help with the funeral expenses,” said Sheldon Borden, Shanna’s brother.
Police say Desmond shot and killed his daughter Aaliyah, his wife Shanna, and his mother Brenda before turning the gun on himself.
Relatives say Lionel Desmond was diagnosed with PTSD after a tour in Afghanistan in 2007. He received help while in the military, but recently was turned away after going to hospital in Antigonish.
Family members say he wasn't the only one dealing with PTSD.
“My cousin Shanna, my little cousin Aaliyah, his daughter, his wife, they were also severely damaged,” said cousin Amber Gero. “They were also dealing with PTSD every day because they had to live with it every day.”
Family from across the country and community members have arrived to share in the grieving and to find comfort.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been made.
A crowdfunding page has raised close to $20,000 for the families, but there's some confusion over communication with all family members.
A community vigil of support is taking place Saturday evening.
“We're a Christian people, and we have a lot of strength from the Christian entity,” said Katherine Hartling, the aunt of one of the victims. “We know we can lean on each other and our community has been very, very strong, all three communities and beyond.”
Family members say the house itself has now become a source of sorrow.
“It disgusts me,” said Shanna’s sister, Shonda Borden. “That house had so many memories, amazing memories, but right now we see nothing but negativity in it.”
The home belongs to the father of Shanna Desmond. Richard Borden says he has every intention of having it torn down as soon as possible.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Dan MacIntosh.