Gunfire, witness at the scene where married couple on Salt Spring Island died
VICTORIA -- A memorial of flowers and handwritten letters is growing on the driveway outside the Salt Spring Island property of a well-known couple died who died on Monday night.
Salt Spring Island RCMP responded to a house on Fulford-Ganges Road just before 5 p.m. for a serious incident.
John Quesnel, 48, and Jennifer Quesnel, 41, lived at the home with their three teenage boys, ages 12 to 16.
When police arrived at the rural property, they found a man dead and a woman still alive, but suffering serious injuries. She was transported to the hospital where she later died.
CTV News Vancouver Island has now confirmed there was a shooting at the property on Monday night. There was also a third person present, who was a witness and is not considered a suspect. The three sons were not home at the time, according to RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Manseau.
Long-time friends of the Quesnel couple said they were high school sweethearts and had been married for 18 years.
Holger Hermann said he “just collapsed” and his “heart just sank“ when he found out his two friends had died.
Flags are being flown at half mast all across Salt Spring Island as residents grapple with many unanswered questions.
“As soon as word started getting out around the island, it hit a lot of people because everyone around the island liked them so much,” Hermann said.
Jennifer is being remembered as a devoted mother, an animal lover and an equestrian.
“Every time there was horse on the loose or a horse here, horse there ... it was always Jen Quesnel, Jen Quesnel,” said resident Juliana Paul. “She was the horse lady. They’re family-orientated people, through and through.”
John owned Salt Spring Metal Recycling and was known around town as a businessman who would write letters to the local newspaper.
“He had a big smile always and he was very outspoken on public policy issues and political issues,” said Hermann.
On Facebook, John posted that there was a theft at the business and the people who took from him were taking money that he uses to feed his family. Hermann said the couple had marital problems, but that the pandemic made things much worse.
“He was getting very down because of the whole pandemic ... he said he had to go and apply for CERB because there was no money coming in whatsover,” said Herman. “The mortgage payments are due; the bill payments don’t go away.”
John would be kept up at night concerned about finances, but was working on building Jennifer an area on their property for a horse run.
“Any extra money he had went into that. It was all the big dream, the gardening, planting,” said Hermann.
A photograph of the entire family with their dog and three boys was posted on John’s Facebook page in 2012. The caption reads “a very rare shot of all of us at once. 20 years ago I’d have never believed in a million years I’d be so lucky in life. My family has made me rich with things money can’t buy.”
Kisae Petersen, the executive director of Islanders Working Against Violence, is deeply saddened by this act of violence in her community.
“Intimate partner violence is a reality on Salt Spring Island,” said Petersen. “During COVID … with family and financial pressures, there is a growing intensity of violence and increased vulnerability.”
IWAV is continuing to provide its anti-violence services, which include a crisis line, outreach, counselling and a transition house for women and families in the community.
Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit left the property on Wednesday afternoon. Police would not confirm if the death is a murder-suicide, but said there is no risk to the public and they’re not considering other suspects.
“All in one day ... everything goes to hell and something happened and we don’t know what,” said Hermann.
The BC Coroners Service is continuing the investigation into how and why the two died, but it could be months before the cause of death is released.