As community mourns, police continue to piece together why gunman killed four family members in Oshawa home

Police continue to piece together why a man drove from Winnipeg to Oshawa and shot to death his brother-in-law, two nephews and a niece, and wounded his sister, as a community mourns and new details emerge.

Though police Saturday had yet to officially identify the victims, neighbours, friends, colleagues and classmates have taken to social media to grieve the loss of Chris Traynor, a teacher at Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School, sons Bradley and Joey, and daughter Adelaide.

There were also expressions of condolence and support for Loretta Traynor, also a teacher, as she recovers in hospital, and another son, who is a university student and was not injured.

Loretta Traynor, a teacher at St. Theresa Catholic in Durham Region, is pictured at the school in 2017. She is now in hospital after being injured by a gunman, who shot dead her husband and three children.

Loretta’s brother, Mitchell Lapa, has been identified by police as the shooter. He was armed with a long gun and died of a self-inflicted gunshot.

“Such an amazing, well-rounded and kind family taken too soon,” a former student of Chris’ and classmate of two of his sons, said in a Facebook post. “Sam and Brad were amazing classmates and band mates, and Mr. Traynor was an outstanding law teacher.”

Another student of Chris’ said in a tweet that her “heart goes out to their friends and family” and that Chris was “the best teacher I’ve ever had.”

“Rest in peace,” friends of Adelaide posted on her Instagram page.

The family was “heavily involved in the community,” Ken Babcock, president of Baseball Oshawa, said in a statement on Facebook. “Words cannot describe the shocking and senseless tragedy that has struck our wonderful community in Oshawa.”

Babcock said Chris coached house league baseball for years, and this year helped coach the Oshawa Legionaires 12U Rep team. Joseph, who friends called Joey, was also on that team and his older brothers played “for many years with Baseball Oshawa.

“On behalf of Baseball Oshawa’s Board, Executive, Coaches, players and families I wish to extend the most sincere and heartfelt prayers to the entire Traynor family … and to all those affected by this horrible tragedy.”

The Durham Catholic School Board could not be reached Saturday for comment, but in a social media post that cited a message to all staff from the director of education, the board acknowledged the deaths.

“It is with broken hearts that we request prayers for the repose of the souls of Chris Traynor, (teacher at Monsignor Paul Dwyer Catholic High School), Bradley Traynor, (graduate of Monsignor Paul Dwyer CHS), Adelaide Traynor, (student at Monsignor Paul Dwyer CHS) and Joseph Traynor, student at (Sir Albert Love Catholic School),” read the message.

Loretta, 50, is a teacher at St. Theresa Catholic School, and staff at both schools are no doubt trying deal with the losses as classes restart.

“Our deepest sympathies and prayers are extended to the entire Traynor family, their friends and their school communities as they deal with this senseless and tragic loss,” read the message. “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. May their souls and the souls of all the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.”

Police were called to the family’s home on Parklane Ave. around 1:20 a.m. Friday morning after receiving multiple 911 calls reporting gunshots. Lapa’s pickup truck with Manitoba plates was parked outside. Police say he drove to the home and was not invited to be there.

Police work at the scene had to be temporarily suspended after a suspicious item was found in the home and the bomb squad called. Investigators in Winnipeg were seen outside Lapa’s home there, but the Star could not reach them Saturday to see what role they are playing.

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Durham police were working with the coroner Saturday and offered no new information. The history of the gun and what the motive might be are likely at the heart of the homicide investigation.

According to an online obituary, Matthew Lapa is the father of Loretta and Mitchell and another son. Matthew passed away in January 2019, predeceased by his wife Marilyn. In April 2018, a cottage previously owned by Loretta’s parents was transferred to her, and neighbours say the family had recently been away at a cottage before the shootings.

An online Linkedin profile belonging to a Mitchell Lapa of Winnipeg suggests he held a variety of jobs, most recently as a “building operator at BGIS,” a facilities management company. Lapa described himself as a hard-working employee who has trained as a class power engineer, and would “relocate for the right opportunity.”

The online bio says Lapa worked as a bus driver in Alberta and won an award for public service for “extraordinary bravery and commitment” during a 2016 wildfire in the province.

The Toronto Sun, quoting an anonymous family friend of Loretta’s, said Loretta’s brother was “always in and out of trouble” and “was mentally unstable.”

Jessica Stephan said Chris Traynor was her anthropology teacher in 2013 and told Durhamregion.com that her memories of him stand out.

“He was always kind and understanding and just a great teacher overall,” she said. “Honestly, one of the few teachers from Paul Dwyer that I remember and have such fond memories of.”

Jennifer McDonald said Chris taught her law class and described him as a “really fun” teacher who tried to make learning exciting by coming up with unique lessons and activities.

“You could tell he really liked his job and was really excited for us to learn,” she said.

A Durhamregion.com story from 2012 describes how students in Chris’ Grade 11 law class worked with Durham Regional Police to provide speeding drivers with a two-minute speech instead of a ticket.

“I loved every minute of your class in high school, you were an amazing teacher who always put their students success first,” said Cassandra Price, another one of his former students who shared her thoughts on social media. “You were taken too soon.”

Jim Rankin

TORONTO STAR