Thursday, May 02, 2002
Suicidal soldier gets year-long jail term for Wainwright rampage
Military vet still faces court martial in shooting incidentDavid Howell, Journal Staff Writer
Despondent and armed with a loaded .38 Special, Sgt. Lynda Barrette wrote what she believed were her last words and went looking for someone to kill her.
Chris Schwarz, The Journal, File / Lynda Barrette is escorted to court last October.
When RCMP Sgt. Glen Plustwa arrived last Oct. 19 at Canadian Forces Base Wainwright, Barrette, a 25-year member of the military who had served on two peacekeeping missions in the former Yugoslavia, was leaning against her car's bumper, the gun pointed at the ground.
She ignored Plustwa's repeated requests to drop the gun and talk. He called for more backup.
A base doctor showed him a note Barrette had written, single-spaced, on looseleaf paper.
It indicated she wanted police to kill her, commonly referred to as "suicide by cop."
Barrette, 44, was sentenced Wednesday to one year in jail after pleading guilty to several weapons offences.
Barrette had tried unsuccessfully to get into the locked military police building.
As she walked away from the door, she squeezed the trigger. Dirt flew as the bullet struck the ground.
"I yelled to everybody that it wasn't a game; this was a live firearm," Plustwa said.
Several other officers were caught without cover.
Barrette walked towards military police officer Alain Lacelle and two others who had ducked behind a hedge.
"Lacelle, he was cooked," Plustwa said."He was standing right behind the hedge and Lynda had her gun (aimed) right at him."
The two faced each other down for two minutes. "I don't know what they said in French but there was quite a conversation going on," Plustwa said.
Barrette next fired her gun twice more in the direction of two RCMP officers in a car, then shot again towards an occupied military police vehicle before returning to her own car to reload.
Plustwa saw Barrette becoming "more focused" as the incident wore on. "Her whole body becomes structured almost like a robot. She's now on a mission."
Barrette confronted another officer. "I'm going to shoot you, if anyone," she told RCMP Const. Myles Marshak.
Marshak took cover behind a police car. Barrette shot out two of its tires.
Plustwa yelled again at her to stop. She came at him.
Plustwa walked backwards into a deep ditch, looking up at Barrette and her weapon.
Fearing she would shoot him, he shot twice, hitting her once in the arm. She crumpled to the ground and Plustwa kicked her gun away.
A charge that she attempted to murder three RCMP officers and four military police officers was withdrawn by the Crown.
"I have to take into account that you were choosing a very, very inappropriate way to have somebody else end your life, for whatever reasons, on that day," provincial court Judge Peter Ayotte said.
"Clearly, these people exposed themselves to danger without trying to shoot you back until they felt they had no choice."
Barrette, who was also an instructor in the military, has spent 6 1/2 months in custody at the Edmonton Remand Centre since last October's 55-minute standoff.
Barrette, who likely faces a military court martial, has recovered from her injury and has been receiving psycho-logical counselling.
Defence lawyer Michael Clancy agreed with the judge that she was trying to get herself killed.
"I think what was moving Ms. Barrette was not a desire to hurt anyone but rather to draw fire from someone else."
A psychiatric report entered as evidence said Barrette's actions were motivated by "difficulties she perceived with her employer."
The report said she has limited social skills and a history of anti-social behaviour.
© Copyright 2002 Edmonton Journal